Megan Sheahan Big Ideas, World Bank, 2-3 June 2014 AGRICULTUREIN AFRICA TELLING FACTSFROM MYTHS
The world in which African agriculture operates has changed… High and volatile food prices New technologies Climate change Soil erosion Increased investment … but our knowledge base remains rooted in the past.
An opportunity exists! LSMS-ISA data sets with strong focus on agriculture Plot, household, and community-level survey data from 8 SSA countries Burkina Faso Ethiopia Malawi Mali Niger Nigeria Tanzania Uganda
REVISITING CONVENTIONAL WISDOMS ABOUT AFRICAN AGRICULTURE WITH LSMS-ISA DATA • Women perform the bulk of Africa’s agricultural tasks • Seasonality continues to permeate rural livelihoods • The majority of the rural poor are net food buyers • Post harvest losses are large • Droughts dominate Africa’s risk environment • African farmers are increasingly diversifying their incomes • Agricultural commercialization improves nutritional outcomes • Use of modern inputs remains dismally low • Land, labor and capital markets remain largely incomplete • Agricultural labor productivity is low • Land is abundant and land markets are poorly developed • Rural entrepreneurs largely operate in survival mode • Extension services are poor • Agroforestry is gaining traction • African agriculture is intensifying
REVISITING CONVENTIONAL WISDOMS ABOUT AFRICAN AGRICULTURE WITH LSMS-ISA DATA • Seasonality continues to permeate rural livelihoods • Use of modern inputs remains dismally low
Use of inorganic fertilizer is low “Myth-ish” Fact: Inorganic fertilizer use taking off in some countries Average unconditional application rate = 26 kg/ha Conditional application rates > 40 kg/ha in 4 of 6 countries!
Inorganic fertilizer mainly for export crops Myth Fact: Inorganic fertilizer use is as high on maize dominated plots as on average on the farm *Niger: millet/sorghum/millet/cowpea instead of maize (too few)
Use of agro-chemicals is low “Myth-ish” Fact: At 30 percent, agro-chemical use is not negligible in some countries Health hazards? %
Use of improved seed varieties is low “Myth-ish” The incidence of mechanization and irrigation are low Fact Fact:Improved maize seeds are used in major maize producing countries, but mechanization and irrigation remain very limited throughout Limited signs of mechanization Signs of improved maize seed use 24% (Ethiopia) to 56 % (Malawi)
Where inputs are used, they are used together Myth Use inorganic fertilizer Use irrigation Fact: Synergies from joint input use largely foregone on plots Input use on plots in Ethiopia 0.2% 11% <15 percent of plots with at least 1 of these inputs uses 2 or more of them together! 0.6% Use improved seed variety 2%
Only male headed household use modern inputs Perceptions of soil quality drive input use decisions Agricultural cooperatives are the main sources of inputs for farmers A lot of “sub-wisdoms” exist too… … see Sheahan and Barrett 2014 Credit options for input purchases are non-existent Source: One Acre Fund Market access is the most important driver of input use adoption Only households with large farms have the capacity to use inputs
Modern input use in Africa is low MYTH OR FACT? Fertilizer, improved seed variety, and agro-chemical use are NOT always low Maize fields have relatively high input use intensity Irrigation and mechanization remain limited Scope for improvement remains!