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close this bookBriefs for Food, Agriculture, and the Environment - 2020 Vision : Brief 1 - 64 (IFPRI)
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View the document2020 BRIEF 1 - AUGUST 1994: ECONOMIC GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT
View the document2020 BRIEF 2 - AUGUST 1994: WORLD SUPPLY AND DEMAND PROJECTIONS FOR CEREALS, 2020
View the document2020 BRIEF 3 - AUGUST 1994: WORLD PRODUCTION OF CEREALS, 1966-90
View the document2020 BRIEF 4 - AUGUST 1994: SUSTAINABLE FARMING: A POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY
View the document2020 BRIEF 5 - OCTOBER 1994: WORLD POPULATION PROJECTIONS, 2020
View the document2020 BRIEF 6 - OCTOBER 1994: MALNUTRITION AND FOOD INSECURITY PROJECTIONS, 2020
View the document2020 BRIEF 7 - OCTOBER 1994: AGRICULTURAL GROWTH AS A KEY TO POVERTY ALLEVIATION
View the document2020 BRIEF 8 - OCTOBER 1994: CONSERVATION AND ENHANCEMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES
View the document2020 BRIEF 9 - FEBRUARY 1995: THE ROLE OF AGRICULTURE IN SAVING THE RAIN FOREST
View the document2020 BRIEF 10 - FEBRUARY 1995: A TIME OF PLENTY, A WORLD OF NEED: THE ROLE OF FOOD AID IN 2020
View the document2020 BRIEF 11 - FEBRUARY 1995: MANAGING AGRICULTURAL INTENSIFICATION
View the document2020 BRIEF 12 - FEBRUARY 1995: TRADE LIBERALIZATION AND REGIONAL INTEGRATION: IMPLICATIONS FOR 2020
View the document2020 BRIEF 13 - APRIL 1995: THE POTENTIAL OF TECHNOLOGY TO MEET WORLD FOOD NEEDS IN 2020
View the document2020 BRIEF 14 - APRIL 1995: AN ECOREGIONAL PERSPECTIVE ON MALNUTRITION
View the document2020 BRIEF 15 - APRIL 1995: AGRICULTURAL GROWTH IS THE KEY TO POVERTY ALLEVIATION IN LOW-INCOME DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
View the document2020 BRIEF 16 - APRIL 1995: DECLINING ASSISTANCE TO DEVELOPING-COUNTRY AGRICULTURE: CHANGE OF PARADIGM?
View the document2020 BRIEF 17 - MAY 1995: GENERATING FOOD SECURITY IN THE YEAR 2020: WOMEN AS PRODUCERS, GATEKEEPERS, AND SHOCK ABSORBERS
View the document2020 BRIEF 18 - MAY 1995: BIOPHYSICAL LIMITS TO GLOBAL FOOD PRODUCTION
View the document2020 BRIEF 19 - MAY 1995: CAUSES OF HUNGER
View the document2020 BRIEF 20 - MAY 1995: CHINA AND THE FUTURE GLOBAL FOOD SITUATION
View the document2020 BRIEF 21 - JUNE 1995: DEALING WITH WATER SCARCITY IN THE NEXT CENTURY
View the document2020 BRIEF 22 - JUNE 1995: THE RIGHT TO FOOD: WIDELY ACKNOWLEDGED AND POORLY PROTECTED
View the document2020 BRIEF 23 - JUNE 1995: CEREALS PROSPECTS IN INDIA TO 2020: IMPLICATIONS FOR POLICY
View the document2020 BRIEF 24 - JUNE 1995: REVAMPING AGRICULTURAL R&D
View the document2020 BRIEF 25 - AUGUST 1995: MORE THAN FOOD IS NEEDED TO ACHIEVE GOOD NUTRITION BY 2020
View the document2020 BRIEF 26 - AUGUST 1995: PERSPECTIVES ON EUROPEAN AGRICULTURE IN 2020
View the document2020 BRIEF 27 - AUGUST 1995: NONDEGRADING LAND USE STRATEGIES FOR TROPICAL HILLSIDES
View the document2020 BRIEF 28 - AUGUST 1995: EMPLOYMENT PROGRAMS FOR FOOD SECURITY IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA
View the document2020 BRIEF 29 - AUGUST 1995: POVERTY, FOOD SECURITY, AND THE ENVIRONMENT
View the document2020 BRIEF 30 - JANUARY 1996: RISING FOOD PRICES AND FALLING GRAIN STOCKS: SHORT-RUN BLIPS OR NEW TRENDS?
View the document2020 BRIEF 31 - APRIL 1996: MIDDLE EAST WATER CONFLICTS AND DIRECTIONS FOR CONFLICT RESOLUTION
View the document2020 BRIEF 32 - APRIL 1996: THE TRANSITION IN THE CONTRIBUTION OF LIVING AQUATIC RESOURCES TO FOOD SECURITY
View the document2020 BRIEF 33 - JUNE 1996: MANAGING RESOURCES FOR SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE IN SOUTH ASIA
View the document2020 BRIEF 34 - JUNE 1996: IMPLEMENTING THE URUGUAY ROUND: INCREASED FOOD PRICE STABILITY BY 2020?
View the document2020 BRIEF 35 - JULY 1996: SOCIOPOLITICAL EFFECTS OF NEW BIOTECHNOLOGIES IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
View the document2020 BRIEF 36 - OCTOBER 1996: RUSSIA'S FOOD ECONOMY IN TRANSITION: WHAT DO REFORMS MEAN FOR THE LONG-TERM OUTLOOK?
View the document2020 BRIEF 37 - OCTOBER 1996: UNCOMMON OPPORTUNITIES FOR ACHIEVING SUSTAINABLE FOOD AND NUTRITION SECURITY - An Agenda for Science and Public Policy
View the document2020 BRIEF 38 - OCTOBER 1996: WORLD TRENDS IN FERTILIZER USE AND PROJECTIONS TO 2020
View the document2020 BRIEF 39 - OCTOBER 1996: REDUCING POVERTY AND PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT: THE OVERLOOKED POTENTIAL OF LESS-FAVORED LANDS
View the document2020 BRIEF 40 - OCTOBER 1996: POLICIES TO PROMOTE ENVIRONMENTALLY SUSTAINABLE FERTILIZER USE AND SUPPLY TO 2020
View the document2020 BRIEF 41 - DECEMBER 1996: STRUCTURAL CHANGES IN THE DEMAND FOR FOOD IN ASIA
View the document2020 BRIEF 42 - MARCH 1997: AFRICA'S CHANGING AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT STRATEGIES
View the document2020 BRIEF 43 - JUNE 1997: THE POTENTIAL IMPACT OF AIDS ON POPULATION AND ECONOMIC GROWTH RATES
View the document2020 BRIEF 44 - JUNE 1997: LAND DEGRADATION IN THE DEVELOPING WORLD: ISSUES AND POLICY OPTIONS FOR 2020
View the document2020 BRIEF 45 - JUNE 1997: AGRICULTURE, TECHNOLOGICAL CHANGE, AND THE ENVIRONMENT IN LATIN AMERICA: A 2020 PERSPECTIVE
View the document2020 BRIEF 46 - JUNE 1997: AGRICULTURE, TRADE, AND REGIONALISM IN SOUTH ASIA
View the document2020 BRIEF 47 - AUGUST 1997: THE NONFARM SECTOR AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT: REVIEW OF ISSUES AND EVIDENCE
View the document2020 BRIEF 48 - FEBRUARY 1998: CHALLENGES TO THE 2020 VISION FOR LATIN AMERICA: FOOD AND AGRICULTURE SINCE 1970
View the document2020 BRIEF 49 - APRIL 1998: NUTRITION SECURITY IN URBAN AREAS OF LATIN AMERICA
View the document2020 BRIEF 50 - JUNE 1998: FOOD FROM PEACE: BREAKING THE LINKS BETWEEN CONFLICT AND HUNGER
View the document2020 BRIEF 51 - JULY 1998: TECHNOLOGICAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR SUSTAINING WHEAT PRODUCTIVITY GROWTH TOWARD 2020
View the document2020 BRIEF 52 - SEPTEMBER 1998: PEST MANAGEMENT AND FOOD PRODUCTION: LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
View the document2020 BRIEF 53 - OCTOBER 1998: POPULATION GROWTH AND POLICY OPTIONS IN THE DEVELOPING WORLD
View the document2020 BRIEF 54 - OCTOBER 1998: FOSTERING GLOBAL WELL-BEING: A NEW PARADIGM TO REVITALIZE AGRICULTURAL AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT
View the document2020 BRIEF 55 - OCTOBER 1998: THE POTENTIAL OF AGROECOLOGY TO COMBAT HUNGER IN THE DEVELOPING WORLD
View the document2020 RESUMEN No. 56 - OCTUBRE DE 1998: AYUDA A LA AGRICULTURA EN LOS PAÍSES EN DESARROLLO: INVERSIONES EN LA REDUCCIÓN DE LA POBREZA Y NUEVAS OPORTUNIDADES DE EXPORTACIÓN
View the document2020 BRIEF 57 - OCTOBER 1998: ECONOMIC CRISIS IN ASIA: A FUTURE OF DIMINISHING GROWTH AND INCREASING POVERTY?
View the document2020 BRIEF 58 - FEBRUARY 1999: SOIL DEGRADATION: A THREAT TO DEVELOPING-COUNTRY FOOD SECURITY BY 20207
View the document2020 BRIEF 59 - MARCH 1999: AGRICULTURAL GROWTH, POVERTY ALLEVIATION, AND ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY: HAVING IT ALL
View the document2020 BRIEF 60 - MAY 1999: CRITICAL CHOICES FOR CHINA'S AGRICULTURAL POLICY
View the document2020 BRIEF 61 - MAY 1999: LIVESTOCK TO 2020: THE NEXT FOOD REVOLUTION
View the document2020 BRIEF 62 - OCTOBER 1999: NUTRIENT DEPLETION IN THE AGRICULTURAL SOILS OF AFRICA
View the document2020 BRIEF 63 - NOVEMBER 1999: PROSPECTS FOR INDIA'S CEREAL SUPPLY AND DEMAND TO 2020
View the document2020 BRIEF 64 - FEBRUARY 2000: OVERCOMING CHILD MALNUTRITION IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES: PAST ACHIEVEMENTS AND FUTURE CHOICES
View the document2020 BRIEF 65 - MARCH 2000: COMBINING INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL INPUTS FOR SUSTAINABLE INTENSIFICATION

2020 BRIEF 15 - APRIL 1995: AGRICULTURAL GROWTH IS THE KEY TO POVERTY ALLEVIATION IN LOW-INCOME DEVELOPING COUNTRIES

Per Pinstrup-Andersen and Rajul Pandya-Lorch

Per Pinstrup-Andersen is director general and Rajul Pandya-Lorch is special assistant at the International Food Policy Research Institute. This brief was prepared as a background note for the World Summit for Social Development, Copenhagen, Denmark, March 1995.

The extent and depth of poverty in the developing world is a disgrace. Over 1.1 billion people - 30 percent of the population - live in absolute poverty, with only a dollar a day or less per person to meet food, shelter, and other needs. Not surprisingly, hunger, malnutrition, and associated diseases are widespread: more than 700 million people do not have access to sufficient food to lead healthy, productive lives; millions more live on the edge of hunger; and more than 180 million preschool children are significantly underweight. Every second person in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa is absolutely poor. Unless concerted action is taken now, poverty is not expected to diminish much in the near future. South Asia will continue to be home to half the developing world's poor, and Sub-Saharan Africa, where the number of poor is projected to increase 40 percent between 1990 and 2000, will emerge as an increasingly important locus of poverty.

Poverty is a rural phenomenon in most of the developing world, especially the low-income developing countries. The rural poor make up more than 75 percent of the poor in many Sub-Saharan African and Asian countries. Latin America's high urbanization rates have led to a higher prevalence of urban poverty, but even in that region the majority of the poor are rural.

AGRICULTURE IS KEY TO POVERTY ALLEVIATION

Most of the world's poor are rural-based and, even when they are not engaged in their own agricultural activities, they rely on nonfarm employment and income that depend in one way or another on agriculture. Moreover, agricultural growth is a catalyst for broad-based economic growth and development in most low-income countries: agriculture's linkages to the nonfarm economy generate considerable employment, income, and growth in the rest of the economy. Very few countries have experienced rapid economic growth without agricultural growth either preceding or accompanying it. Economic growth is strongly linked to poverty reduction. Diversification out of agriculture will occur in the long term, but in the short term many countries lack alternatives.

Agricultural growth and development must be vigorously pursued in low-income developing countries for at least four reasons: (1) to alleviate poverty through employment creation and income generation in rural areas; (2) to meet growing food needs driven by rapid population growth and urbanization; (3) to stimulate overall economic growth, given that agriculture is the most viable lead sector for growth and development in many low-income developing countries; and (4) to conserve natural resources. Poverty is the most serious threat to the environment in developing countries: lacking means to appropriately intensify agriculture, the poor are often forced to overuse or misuse the natural resource base to meet basic needs.

National and international investments in agriculture have declined since the mid-1980s. In many countries, agriculture has been taxed explicitly and implicitly. The downward trend in support for developing-country agriculture must be reversed, not only to assure future food supplies and to protect natural resources, but also to promote general economic growth and poverty alleviation.

Accelerated public investments are needed to facilitate agricultural and rural growth through

· Yield-increasing crop varieties, including improved crop varieties and hybrids that are more drought-tolerant and pest-resistant, and improved livestock;

· Yield-increasing and environmentally-friendly production technology such as small-scale irrigation and irrigation management systems and techniques such as integrated pest management;

· Reliable, timely, and reasonably priced access to appropriate inputs such as tools, fertilizer, and, when needed, pesticides, and the credit often needed to purchase them;

· Strong extension services and technical assistance to communicate timely information and developments in technology and sustainable resource management to farmers and to relay farmer concerns to researchers;

· Improved rural infrastructure and effective markets; and

· Primary education, health care, and good nutrition for all.


These investments need to be supported by an enabling policy environment. This includes trade, macro, and sectoral policies that do not discriminate against agriculture, and policies that provide appropriate incentives for the sustainable management of natural resources.

INVESTMENTS IN RESEARCH AND TECHNOLOGY ARE CRUCIAL

Agricultural research and technological improvements are crucial to increase agricultural productivity and returns to farmers and farm labor, thereby reducing poverty and meeting future food needs at reasonable prices without irreversible degradation of the natural resource base. Accelerated investment in agricultural research is particularly urgent for low-income developing countries, partly because these countries will not achieve reasonable economic growth and poverty alleviation without productivity increases in agriculture, and partly because comparatively little research is currently undertaken in these countries. Many poor countries, which depend the most on productivity increases in agriculture, grossly under invest in agricultural research (Figure 1). Per capita agricultural research expenditures in low-income countries are one-tenth those in high-income countries, even though agriculture accounts for much larger shares of average incomes. Expenditures in public-sector agricultural research in low-income countries are still less than 0.5 percent of the agricultural gross domestic product, compared with about 2.0 percent in high-income countries, a share that has doubled since the early 1960s.

Sub-Saharan Africa, which desperately needs productivity increases in agriculture, has only 42 agricultural researchers per million economically active persons in agriculture compared with 2,458 in industrialized countries. Figure 2 shows that the annual growth of African agricultural research expenditures has declined since the 1960s. Sub-Saharan Africa is also missing out on biotechnological research, which is concentrated in industrial countries and a few large developing countries such as Brazil. By failing to capitalize on the new opportunities biotechnology offers, Sub-Saharan Africa may lose export markets to competitors and synthetic substitutes.


Figure 1 - Agricultural research expenditures, 1981-85

Source: Pardey, P., J. Roseboom, and J. R. Anderson, eds. 1991. Agricultural research policy: International quantitative perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press


Figure 2 - Annual growth rate of expenditures in African national agricultural research systems

Note: Includes 16 countries.
Source: Pardey, P., J. Roseboom, and N. Beintema. 1995. Agricultural research in Africa: Three decades of development. Briefing Paper No. 19. The Hague, Netherlands: International Service for National Agricultural Research.

A large share of the poor reside in areas with high risks of environmental degradation. The low priority given to research to develop appropriate technology for these areas in the past is a major reason for the current rapid degradation of natural resources and high levels of poverty. In addition to assuring sufficient research investment in the high-potential areas, much more research must be directed to the development of appropriate technology for marginal areas. Outmigration is not a feasible solution for these areas in the foreseeable future simply because of the large numbers of poor people who reside there and the lack of opportunities elsewhere.

While the private sector is expected to play an increasing role in research and technology development for developing-country agriculture, much of the research needed to reduce poverty is of a public goods nature - the benefits are not easily captured by individual farmers or firms but extend to society as a whole - and will not be undertaken by the private sector. Fortunately, extremely high social rates of returns of past and current agricultural research justify public investment. The major share of such investments should occur in the developing countries' own research institutions. However, to be fully effective, those institutions must be supported by international research. The centers under the auspices of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) play an essential role in undertaking research of a public goods nature with large international benefits. Such research is of critical importance to developing countries and must be accelerated if poverty is to be significantly reduced.

Research and technology alone will not drive agricultural growth. The interaction between technology and policy is critical. The full and beneficial effects of agricultural research and technological change will materialize only if government policies are appropriate. Distortions in input and output markets, asset ownership, and other institutional and market distortions adverse to the poor must be minimized or removed. Access by the poor to productive resources such as land and capital needs to be enhanced. Human resources must be improved through expanded investments in education, health care, nutrition, and sanitary environments. Rural infrastructure and institutions must be strengthened. The policy environment must be conducive to and supportive of poverty alleviation and sus-tainable management of natural resources.

Agriculture must be in the forefront of the national and international agenda to eradicate poverty in low-income developing countries. Failure to significantly expand agricultural research in and for developing countries and failure to invest in agricultural development will make poverty eradication an elusive goal. Lack of foresight today comes with a high price tag for the future. As usual, the weak and powerless will pay the largest share of the price. We must all share the blame for inaction or inappropriate action.