African agricultural production

African agricultural production

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30 Nov 2018

Author(s): Ron Sandrey

In a recent tralac publication, Agriculture and the African Continental Free Trade Area, Sandrey et al. (2018) outlined just how many African economies continue to rely on agriculture. However, the issue of low agricultural productivity (net production per capita) in many sub-Saharan African countries has not improved significantly over the past several decades and in some countries, the situation is deteriorating. This has major implications for industrial development across the continent, as Africa has not been able to duplicate the Asian growth model of transferring resources out of agriculture and placing them into export-oriented manufacturing. A modern agricultural sector is generally lacking across the continent, and this places restrictions on promoting an export-oriented agricultural sector.

The objective of this paper is to lay a foundation for a series of analyses on the agricultural sector in the major African countries. The paper examines the geographical profile for the top eight African agricultural products by country, and then a further eight products for general interest. A profile of agricultural production in Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa and Ethiopia is presented, as well as the main livestock producers by country.

The conventional wisdom was that resources needed to be moved out of agriculture to ensure development, but current thinking is that perhaps technology in agriculture may be the key. While this paper does not explore this development issue in detail, it does provide a solid background of the African agricultural production profile.


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