05 Dec 2016
Degol Hailu and Chinpihoi Kipgen
It is a fair to assume agricultural productivity is higher in resource-rich countries. This is because revenues from the sale of oil, gas and minerals can finance the provision of equipment, fertilizer, irrigation, credit and seed to farmers. However, agricultural productivity continues to remain modest in many of Africa’s resource exporting countries. Why?
Between 2003 and 2013, agricultural output in resource-dependent countries in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) actually grew at an average annual rate of 3.6%, slightly higher than the 2.7% growth rate experienced by the rest of SSA. Annual agricultural output growth rates in Angola, Cameroon and Zambia, for instance, averaged higher than 6% and were among the world’s highest growth rates.
A closer look at the use of production inputs, however, indicates that much of the growth in agricultural output has been achieved by increasing the size of cultivated land and not productivity. Cropland grew at an annual rate of 2.6%, reaching a total of 103 million hectares compared to 83 million hectares in the previous decade.
Although the stock of farm machinery (in 40-CV tractor equivalents) is estimated to have increased by 18.6%, farm machines per 1,000 hectares of arable land have remained at less than 4. This figure …