For modernisation of African agriculture

In: Uncategorized

15 Apr 2008

I disagree with Paul Collier, author of The Bottom Billion, on many things. Readers may remember that I debated him at the Battle of Ideas 2007. But he makes some astute points on the current food crisis in an article in today’s Times (London):

“The remedy to high food prices is to increase supply. The most realistic way is to replicate the Brazilian model of large, technologically sophisticated agro-companies that supply the world market. There are still many areas of the world – including large swaths of Africa – that have good land that could be used far more productively if it were properly managed by large companies. To contain the rise in food prices we need more, globalisation not less.”

He goes on:

“In Africa … the World Bank and the Department for International Development have orientated their entire efforts on agricultural development to peasant-style production. Africa has less large-scale commercial agriculture than it had 60 years ago. Unfortunately, peasant farming is not well suited to innovation and investment. The result has been that African agriculture has fallen farther and farther behind.”