2016-07-01Buch DOI: 10.18452/18002
Rural Transformation in Sub-Saharan Africa
The present study on rural transformation in Sub-Saharan Africa is understood as a conceptual con-tribution to the research project “Towards a Socially Inclusive and Ecologically Sustainable Rural Transformation in Africa”. Its purpose is to show rural transformation trends in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), to identify the drivers, to outline current debates on its design and to assess this against the backdrop of empirical findings. Macro-analysis of post-colonial transformation in SSA shows that despite burgeoning urbanization and the tripling of agricultural production since the 1960s – roughly in tune with population growth – only an extremely mild form of transformation has taken place so far when measured against conventional indicators (agricultural productivity growth, shifts between sectors). Almost two-thirds of all households still live foremost from the land. Heightened produc-tion was widely based on a growth in the agricultural labour force, which cultivated additional crop land with virtually unaltered methods. Urbanization, on balance, is the result of a shift in sources of income within diversified rural-urban livelihood systems from farm to off-farm income. The latter stems primarily from informal, unproductive and often precarious activities, and must be considered a supplement rather than a genuine alternative to on-farm sources of income. Lack of dynamic growth in stable off-farm income-generating activities was therefore the chief stumbling block to rapid structural change in SSA. Accelerated rural transformation in the form of intensified farm pro-duction, however, is a trend that has been observed since 2008 and was brought about by rising global demands for agricultural goods and a growing scarcity of natural resources. Shaping this transformation sustainably calls for inclusion of the overwhelming majority of poor small-scale farmers in a process of ecology-based farm intensification. Coupled with this is the need for en-hanced off-farm sources of income. A strategy that focuses on the exit of farm labour from agricul-ture, however, will lead to social exclusion unless vibrant growth in productive off-farm employment opportunities is forthcoming.
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