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Why Agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa is Under-performing

Many reasons have been put forward for this state of affairs. These have ranged from the continent’s biophysical environment to the ineptitude of its farmers. Several aspects of Africa’s environment present challenges for its farmers. Rainfall patterns are extremely varied and unpredictable. African soils are geologically very old, and most are infertile and respond poorly to mineral fertilizer. Fertile soils are mainly found in the East African Rift Valley, and on the floodplains and deltas where silt is deposited, and require careful agricultural water management. But, based on extensive involvement with agriculture and Africa for many years, researchers thought it would be useful to try to identify the underlying – and real – reasons for the under-performance. This was done by digging into the historical literature. This included material on the historical development of agricultural systems in Africa and changes of the economic drivers of production, among others.