Land Reform, Small Scale Farming and Poverty Eradication Lessons from Africa

"The importance of agriculture to development in Africa is underlined by the dependence of over 70% of the population’s livelihood mainly from farming and related activities, or through self employment on small farms; while only 20% of the farmers operate large holdings which employ large workforces. However, African agricultural performance has been weak, contributing less than 20% of GDP, with the world share of agricultural exports falling from 8% to 2% over four decades, and falling from being a net food exporter to being a net food importer, in spite of food price increases. Yet agricultural production has remained predominantly export oriented, with food exports growing to 13%, while food imports grew to around 20% over the last two decades. The growing importance of tourism also means that about 30% of the land (especially in southern and eastern Africa) is reserved for nature conservancies and woodlands. These patterns limit the expansion of home markets and the integration of agriculture within other industries. Africa continues to face a food production and consumption ‘crisis’ and dependence on food aid. The consumption deficit reflects escalating food prices and food shortages, which particularly limits access by the poor. Declining agricultural productivity and increased production costs determine the escalating food prices, with food accounting for 60–70% of total consumption expenditure of Africa’s growing low-income groups. Malnourishment – a basic indicator of the social reproduction crisis – is endemic, with over 200 million people in 2001 compared to 133 million in 1980 affected."