Fixing Famine: How Technologies & Incentives Can Help Feed Africa
The food crisis in mid-2008, which caused riots and protests around the globe, was felt especially hard in Africa. Though food prices have now declined, Africa’s struggles with hunger are far from over.
Africa’s ability to feed itself has been in decline for the past four decades. To combat hunger and to encourage economic development, this trend needs to be reversed. In the short run, simple technology can make a difference in the lives of Africa’s millions of rural farmers by increasing the productivity of their land and thereby increasing incomes.
This study, based on fieldwork conducted in Malawi and Kenya, profiles four simple technologies that have major benefits for smallholder farmers. Hybrid and genetically modified seeds, greenhouses, irrigation, and plug seedlings all increase farm outputs and allow farmers to harvest multiple crops a year.
Though these technologies have the potential to be very successful, there are several barriers that prevent their greater use: lack of credit, poor infrastructure, high transaction costs, and educational and cultural barriers.
Fixing Famine was originally published as a policy comment by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. It is reproduced by IPN with permission.