Building the next generation of African agricultural economists

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Building the next generation of African agricultural economists

Building the next generation of African agricultural economists was one of the key highlights of a Structural Transformation of the African Agriculture and Rural Spaces (STAARS) workshop at the headquarters of the African Development Bank, from December 11-12, 2017.

Organized by the Macroeconomics Policy, Forecasting, and Research (ECMR) Department of the African Development Bank and Cornell University, the workshop brought together top tier and emerging young African researchers from Africa and around the world to discuss recent developments in policy-relevant agricultural research and the understand the policy implications for the transformation of Africa’s agriculture.

The STAARS project has benefited from the generous financial support provided by the Korean Government through the Korea-Africa Economic Cooperation (KOAFEC) Trust Fund managed by the African Development Bank.

The workshop was a broad STAARS project that links the role of knowledge to the Bank’s Feed Africa Strategy. Participants gained enhanced awareness of the role of agriculture in Africa’s development and structural transformation, and how research can shape agriculture policy in Africa.

In his remarks, Abebe Shimeles of the Macroeconomics Policy, Forecasting, and Research (ECMR) Department presented the current status of Africa’s agricultural sector and highlighted the need for agricultural transformation to achieve food security and rural .

He also stressed the need to account for climate change issues, an increase in agricultural investments, the promotion of innovation, and improve synergies between agricultural knowledge generation and development interventions and policies.

Christopher Barrett, a professor from Cornell University, stressed the importance of agriculture-led structural rural transformation to boost farm output growth. He highlighted how innovations in rural education and nutrition could lead to increased investment in health care and enhance lives and human capital in Africa.

Plenary presentations covered diverse topics relating to the micro-foundations of structural transformation in Africa using high quality, nationally representative and publicly available datasets, such as the Living Standards Measurement Studies – Integrated Surveys on Agriculture (LSMS-ISA), which have not been fully exploited.

The majority of presenters were young STAARS research fellows, who highlighted the key factors which could improve agricultural productivity and speed up the transformation of the agriculture sector in Africa. The researchers identified a number of constraints, relating mainly to climate change, technology, access to markets, affordable financing, investment, policy uncertainty and gender inequality, among others. The panelists also emphasized the urgent need to diversify farmers’ revenues, promote agricultural innovative financing and increase the adoption of productivity-enhancing technologies.

The STAARS workshop is a reflection of the Bank’s leadership in pushing forward the agenda on the transformation of African agriculture and rural spaces.

STAARS Workshop, 11-12 December 2017