Agricultural Transformation and Poulation Nexus: Some Theoretical and Empirical Lessons for Sub-Saharan Africa

Elliott P. Niboye, Samwel J. Kabote


Compared to other regions in the world, agricultural performance in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has for many decades been deteriorating.  Theoretically, it has been argued that rapid population growth could be responsible for not only deteriorating agricultural performance but also to environmental degradation.  On the other hand, the Asian green Revolution of 1960s has been reported as a success story in terms of transforming agriculture and improving food security in the context of increasing population in countries such as China and India.  This article reviews the Malthusian theoretical ideas and their relevance to agricultural transformation in the African context and sub-Saharan Africa in particular.  It further discusses empirical evidence emanating from sub-Saharan Africa in relation to agricultural productivity, population growth and the integrity of the environment.  Based on ensuing discussions, the agricultural sector in SSA needs to be transformed, and theoretical arguments that negate the Malthusian stance are really relevant in this sub-continent.  It is further stressed that replicating the Asian Green Revolution will not work perfectly in SSA because of variations in context based on policy, institutional, and structural arrangements.  Therefore, transforming agriculture in this sub-continent is not an easy and straight  forward task; rather, its success will depend on the interplay between policy interventions, integrating the agricultural sector with other sectors of the economy, active participation of different stakeholders, as well as government mediations.

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