Future Agricultures Working Paper 69
Despite ongoing changes in the structure of African economies, Africa remains heavily dependent on the agricultural sector for employment, foreign exchange and as a (potential) driver of poverty reduction. However, for several decades the dominant narrative regarding African agriculture has been one of underperformance. This paper broadly accepts the “under-performance” narrative, but qualifies it by highlighting the great diversity in performance both across and within countries and regions within Africa. It then considers how African agriculture is positioned to respond to a confluence of powerful forces that are already affecting it and will do so with increasing influence over the next decade(s). The three forces that this paper focuses on are: (1) increased demand for agricultural products in both domestic and international markets; (2) Population growth (which both contributes to this demand and alters the relative scarcities of land and labour available for production); (3) Democratisation (which is a partial exception, as the basic conclusion is that it is not yet exerting as much influence on agricultural policy as might be expected).