Journal of Development and Agricultural Economics
Subscribe to JDAE
Full Name*
Email Address*

Article Number - 95CCE5541253

Vol.5(11), pp. 425-443 , November 2013
ISSN: 2006-9774

 Total Views: 0
 Downloaded: 0


Understanding the performance of food production in sub-Saharan Africa and its implications for food security

M. Demeke
  • M. Demeke
  • Agricultural Development Economics Division, Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations, Rome 00153, Italy.
  • Google Scholar
F. Di Marcantonio
  • F. Di Marcantonio
  • Agricultural Development Economics Division, Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations, Rome 00153, Italy.
  • Google Scholar
  • Morales-Opazo
  • European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for Prospective Technological Studies, Edificio Expo, c/Inca Garcilaso 3, 41092 Seville, Spain.
  • Google Scholar

 Accepted: 27 July 2013  Published: 30 November 2013

Copyright © 2013 Author(s) retain the copyright of this article.
This article is published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0

The performance of the food production sector in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is critical for a number of reasons. Domestic production is the principal avenue to ensuring access to affordable food in poor countries with limited capacity to import food. The multiplier effect of sustainable food production on the economy is considerable as it has direct linkage with other activities such as transportation, marketing, tourism and local trade. In countries where the growth of food production outpaces demand, social and political harmony as well as macroeconomic stability can be maintained, paving the way for sustained economic growth. This paper examines changes in food production performance among 30 SSA countries over the period of 1968 to 2008. The results support previous findings that not many countries have managed to achieve a food production growth rate in excess of 3% per annum. Annual food production performance averaged 3% or more in 60% of the sample countries following the policy reforms. Nevertheless, rates of output growth varied from one period to the other and the recent improved performances were achieved not only through unsustainable expansion of land under cultivation, but also failed to satisfy the rapidly growing food demand. With domestic supply lagging behind, most countries have experienced unaffordable food import bills. Addressing political instability and building institutions that foster partnership between governments, farmers, traders and other operators along the food value chain to address market failures and inefficiencies in input, output, credit and risk managementis critical to ensure food availability, accessibility and stability in SSA.


Key words: Sub-Saharan Africa, food production performance, food security.

AEC (1991) 'Treaty of African Economic Community'.
AFDB OECD, UNECA (2010). African Economic Outlook – Public Resource Mobilisation and Aid, OECD Development Centre and ADB, Paris.
African Union (2003). "Maputo Declarations", Assembly of the African Union, Second Ordinary Session. Addis Abbaba, P. 10.
Anderson K, Masters W (2009). Distortions to Agricultural Incentives in Africa, Washington DC: World Bank.
Benson C, Clay E (1998). The Impact of Drought on Sub-Saharan African Economies: A Preliminary Examination. Washington, DC: World Bank. Technical 401:1998.
Boon EK (2007). Food Security in Africa: Challenges and Prospect, Report for Regional Sustainable Development Review: Africa.
Breisinger C, van Rheenen T, Ringler C, Pratt A, Minot N, Aragon C, Yu B, Ecker O, Zhu T (2010). Food Security and Economic Development in the Middle East and North Africa Current State and Future Perspectives. IFPRI Discuss. P. 00985.
Buffie EF, Atolia M (2009). Agricultural input subsidies in Malawi: Good, bad or hard to tell? FAO Commodity and Trade Policy Research Working Paper No. 28, August.
Camara Y (2000). Profitability of cassava production systems in West Africa: A comparative analysis (Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria), CAB. P. 200.
Chilowa W (1998). The Impact of Agricultural Liberalization on Food Security in Malawi. Paper presented at a seminar on Economic Liberalization: A review of Policies, Chancellor College, Zomba, Malawi.
Clark J (2002). 'The neo‐colonial context of the democratic experiment of Congo‐Brazzaville'. Afr. Affairs 112:446.
Deininger K, Byerlee D, Lindsay J, Norton A, Selod H, Stickler M (2010). Rising Global Interest in Farmland. Can It Yield Sustainable and Equitable Benefits? Washington, D.C: World Bank.
Diao X, Fan S, Headey D, Johnson M, Nin Pratt A, Yu B (2008). Accelerating Africa's food production in response to rising food
prices: Impacts and requisite actions. IFPRI Discuss. P. 825.
Dorward A, Shenggen F, Kydd J, Lofgren H, Morrison J (2004). 'Institutions and Policies for Pro-poor Agricultural Growth'. Dev. Pol. Rev. 22:611-622.
Dorward A (2009). Rethinking agricultural input subsidy programmes in a changing world, Paper prepared for the Trade and Markets Division, FAO, April.
Druilhe Z, Barreiro-Hurlé J (2012). Fertilizer subsidies in sub-Saharan Africa, ESA Working paper Num 12:04, FAO, July.
ECOWAS (2009). Ecowas Agricultural Policy Compressive African Agriculture- Report Ghana.
Edgerton MD (2009). Increasing Crop Productivity to Meet Global Needs for Feed, Food and Fuel'. Plant Physiol. 149:7-13.
Erenstein O, Kassie GT, Mwangi W (2011). Challenges and opportunities for maize seed sector development in eastern Africa, Paper presented at the conference: Increasing Agricultural Productivity and Enhancing Food Security in Africa: New Challenges
and Opportunities, 1-3 November 2011, Africa Hall, UNECA, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Fafchamps M (1992). 'Cash Crop Production, Food Price Volatility, and Rural Market Integration in the Third World'. Am. J. Agric. Econ. 74:90-92.
FAO (1999). The Impact of the Structural Adjustment Programmes on Family Farms. Working Paper Investment Center. Rome, Italy
FAO (2009). The State of the Food Insecurity in the world 2009: Economic crises - impacts and lessons learned. Rome, Italy.
FAO (2010). The State of the Food Insecurity in the world 2010: Addressing food insecurity in protracted crises. Rome, Italy.
FAO (2011a). The State of the Food Insecurity in the world 2011: How does international price volatility affect domestic economies and food security? Rome, Italy.
FAO (2011b). Save and Grow: A Policymaker's Guide to Sustainable Intensification of Smallholder Crop Production. Rome, Italy.
FAO (2012). The State of the Food Insecurity in the world 2012: Economic growth is necessary but not sufficient to accelerate reduction of hunger and malnutrition. Rome, Italy.
FAO (2000). The state of food insecurity in the world. Rome, Italy.
G8 (2009). 'L'Aquila' Joint Statement on Global Food Security.L'Aquila Food Security Initiative (AFSI) declaration.
Gautam M (2006). Managing Drought in Sub-Saharan Africa: Policy Perspectives, Invited paper prepared for an Invited Panel Session on Drought: Economic Consequences and Policies for Mitigation, at the IAAE Conference, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, August 12-18.
Gonzalez-Vega C (2003). Deepening Rural Financial Markets: Macroeconomic, Policy and Political Dimensions, paper prepared for the conference "Paving the Way Forward: An International Conference on Best Practices in Rural Finance". Washington, D.C., 2-4 June.
Harrigan J (1997). 'Modeling the impact of World Bank policy-based lending: the case of Malawi's agricultural sector'. J. Dev. Stud. 33:6.
Harrigan J (2003). 'U-Turns and Full Circles: Two Decades of Agricultural Reform in Malawi 1981–2000'- World Dev. 31:847-863
Hernandez MA, Torero M (2011). Fertilizer Market Situation: Market Structure, Consumption and Trade Patterns, and Pricing Behavior, IFPRI Discuss. P. 01058.
ICID (2010). Irrigation development challenges for the least developed countries in Africa, International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage (ICID).
ICSU Region Office for Africa (2007). Natural and Human-induced Hazards and Disasters in sub-Saharan Africa, International Council for Science (ICSU).
IFPRI (2011). Agricultural Productivity and Policies in Sub-Saharan Africa. IFPRI Discuss. P. 01150.
Jayne TS, Yamano T, Weber M, Tschirley D, Benfica R, Chapoto A. and Zulu B (2003). 'Smallholder Income and Land Distribution in Africa: Implications for Poverty Reduction Strategies'. Food Policy, 28:253-275.
Jayne TS, Govereh J, Mwanaumo A, Nyoro J, Chapoto A (2002). 'False Promise or False Premise? The Experience of Food and Input Market Reform in Eastern and Southern Africa'. World Development, 30:1967-1985.
Kakwani N (1997). On Measuring Growth and Inequality Components of Poverty with Application to Thailand', The University of New South Wale. School Econ. Discussion Paper.
Kasfir N (2008). 'Are African Peasants Self-Sufficient?', Dev. Change 17:335-357.
Keen D (1994). The Benefits of Famine: A political economy of famine and relief in south western Sudan, 1983-1989. Princeton, NJ (USA): Princeton Univ. Press.
Keen D (1998). Aid and Violence, with Special Reference to Sierra Leone'. Disasters 22:318-327.
Keen D (2000). Managing Armed Conflicts in the 21st Century. 'War and Peace: What's the difference?', International Peacekeeping 7:1-22.
Kelly V (2006). Factors affecting demand for fertilizer in Sub-Saharan
Africa, Agriculture and Rural Development Department, World Bank, Washington D.C.
Kherallah M, Minot N, Kachule R, Soule BG, Berry P (2001). Impact of agricultural market reforms on smallholder farmers in Benin and
Malawi, IFPRI Collaborative Research Project:
Kydd J, Dorward A, Morrison J, Cadisch G (2007). Agricultural development and pro-poor economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa: potential and policy'. Oxford Dev. Stud. 32:37-57.
Lele U (1990). Structural adjustment, agricultural development and the poor: Some lessons from the Malawian experience'. Word Dev. 18:1207-1219.
Mafimisebi T, Oguntade A, Mafimisebi O (2010). Re-engineering Agriculture For enhanced Performance through Financing. J. Econ. Finan. Admin. Sci. 15:35-49.
Making Finance Work for Africa Secretariat (2012). Policy brief on agricultural finance in Africa, ADB, Tunisia.
Maxwell D (1999). The Political Economy of Urban Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa'. Word Dev. 27:1939-1953.
Messer E, Cohen MJ, D'Costa J (1998). Food from peace: breaking the links between conflict and hunger. In: 2020 Vision for Food, Agriculture, and the Environment. Discussion, IFRI, Washington DC. P. 24.
Morris M, Valerie A, Kelly, Ron J. Kopicki, and Derek Byerlee (2007). Fertilizer Use in African Agriculture: Lessons Learned and Good Practice Guidelines. Washington DC: World Bank.
Moser G, Rogers S, Reinold van Til (1997). Nigeria: Experience with
Structural Adjustment, IMF Occasional P. 148, Washington: IMF
Munthali T (2004). The Impact of Structural Adjustment Policies (SAPs) on Manufacturing Growth in Malawi, Macroeconomics 0410002, EconWPA
Nweke F (2004). 'New Challenges in the Cassava Transformation in Nigeria and Ghana', EPTD Discussion paper No 118, IFPRI, Washington, DC.
O'Connell S (2008). 'The Political Economy of Economic Growth in Africa, 1960-2000: An Overview' in B. Ndulu, A. O'Connell, J.P. Azam, R. Bates, A. Fosu, J. Gunning and D. Njinkeu (eds.) The Political Economy of Economic Growth in Africa, 1960-200. Vol. 2. Country Case Studies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Odame H, Muang E (2011). 'Can Agro-dealers Deliver the Green Revolution in Kenya?'. IDS Bull. 42:78-89.
OECD (2005). 'Data and Metadata Reporting and Presentation Handbook', Paris.
OECD (2008). African Economic Outlook 2008. Paris, France.
Omamo S, Diao X, Wood S, Chamberlin J, You L, Benin S, Wood-Sichra U, Tatwangire A (2006). 'Strategic Priorities for Agricultural Development in Eastern and Central Africa', Research Report no. 150, IFPRI, Washington, DC.
Phillip D, Nkonya E, Pender J, Oni OA (2009). Constraints to Increasing Agricultural Productivity in Nigeria: A Review, IFPRI/NSSP.
Rakotoarisoa MA, Lafrate M, Paschali M (2011). Why has Africa Become a Net Food Importer: Explaining Africa agricultural and food trade deficits, Trade and Markets Division, Rome: FAO.
Reardon T, Barret Ch, Valerie K (2002). 'Policy Reform and Sustainable Agricultural Intensification in Africa'. Dev. Policy Rev. 17:375-395.
Richards P (2006). The History and Future of African Rice: Food Security and Survivalian in West African War Zone', African Spectrum, 41:77-93. (Not cited in the article)
Rono JK (2002). The impact of structural Adjustment Programs on Kenyan Society. J. Soc. Dev. Afr. 17:81-98.
Sanders JH, Barry S (2006). 'Policies and market development to accelerate technological change in the semiarid zones: A focus on Sub-Saharan Africa' in Payne et al (ed.), Dryland Agriculture, 2nd Edition, Agronomy Monograph No. 23. American Society of Agronomy, Inc. Crop Science Society of America, Inc. Soil Science Society of America, Inc. 677 South Segoe Raod Madison, Wisconsin 53711:879-900
Scoones I, Thompson J (2011). The Politics of Seed in Africa's Green Revolution: Alternative Narratives and Competing Pathways', IDS Bull. 42:1-23.
Skarstein R (2005). 'Economic liberalization and smallholder productivity in Tanzania: From Promised success to real failure, 1985-1998. J. Agrar. Change 5:334-362.
Skarstein R (2005). 'Economic Liberalization and Smallholder in Tanzania. From Promised Success to Real Failure, 1985-1988'. J. Agrarian Change 5:334-362.
Smale M, Byerlee D, Jayne T (2011). 'Maize Revolutions in Sub-Saharan Africa', Policy Research Working Paper, 5659, The World Bank Development Research Group Agriculture and Rural Development Team.
Teravaninthorn S, Raballand G (2009). 'Transport Prices and Costs in Africa: A Review of the Main International Corridors', African Infrastructure Country Diagnostic, Working P. 14, The World Bank.
Thapa G, Gaiha R (2011). Smallholder farming in Asia and the Pacific: Challenges and Opportunties', Conference on New Directions for Smallholder Agriculture, 24-25 January, Rome, IFAD HQ.
Ugwu B (1996). Increasing cassava production in Nigeria and prospects for sustain the trend'. Outlook Agric. 25:179-185.
Ugwu DS, Kanu IO (2012). Effects of agricultural reforms on the agricultural sector in Nigeria', J. Afr. Stud. Dev. 4:51-59.
UNCTAD (2009). Food security and agricultural development in times of high commodity prices, Geneve.
UNECA (1979). Lagos Plan Action for the Economic Development of Africa 1980-2000', Addis Abbaba.
UNEP Year Book (2012). Emerging Issues in our Global Environment.
USDA (2007)- 'The Impact of Agricultural Research in Tropical Africa', Study P. 21.
Weissman S (1990). 'Structural adjustment in Africa: Insights from the experiences of Ghana and Senegal'. World Dev. 18:1621-1634.
WHO (2008). 'Global and regional food consumption patterns and trends'. Working P. 3.
Wobst P (2001). 'Structural Adjustment and Intersectoral Shifts in Tanzania: A Computable General Equilibrium'. International Food Policy Research Institute, Working, Washington, DC, P. 109.
World Bank (2008). 'World Bank Assistance to Agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa', Washington DC: World Bank.
World Bank (2009). 'African Agriculture—What Do We Not Know? What Do We Need to Know?', Washington DC: World Bank.
Zawalinska K (2004). 'What has been an economic impact of Structural Adjustment Programs on households in Transition countries?', Essay no. 1 for P. 2 Institutions and Development Submitted in part-fulfilment of the requirements for the MPhil in Development Studies at the University of Cambridge.


APA (2013). Understanding the performance of food production in sub-Saharan Africa and its implications for food security. Journal of Development and Agricultural Economics, 5(11), 425-443.
Chicago M. Demeke, F. Di Marcantonio and C. Morales-Opazo,. "Understanding the performance of food production in sub-Saharan Africa and its implications for food security." Journal of Development and Agricultural Economics 5, no. 11 (2013): 425-443.
MLA M. Demeke, et al. "Understanding the performance of food production in sub-Saharan Africa and its implications for food security." Journal of Development and Agricultural Economics 5.11 (2013): 425-443.

Subscription Form