Right now we in the West are forcing Sub-Saharan countries into actions which we know will push them deeper into poverty.
Dave Harris from the International Centre for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF) leads a seminar, in Bangor University, on the feasibility of people in sub-Saharan Africa being able to “grow” their way out of poverty.
For farmers on or below the poverty line (£1.50 a day), he outlined that organisations currently try to encourage more effective ways of farming. They also try to promote the use of new farming technologies.
These technologies include irrigation systems as highlighted in this short video by the UN below…
However, over 85% of farmers globally have less than two hectares of land. Therefore the theoretical output is limited by the space they have.
For the studies Dave explains there are two main assumptions made:
1. The Only Limiting Factor is their Own Productivity
Their own productivity is limited by the size of their land and a number of workers (usually family members) they have.
This is required for the improvement in technologies so that farming techniques is the only variable that can improve their output.
2. They Want to Improve their Income through Farming
The main point highlighted by Dave was the need for these new technologies and techniques to be used throughout the generations. The family need to be applied to helping the advance of their family Income.
Here is where the problems start to appear…
Not only does forcing entire family generations to become farmers seems wrong to me, but it might not make that much difference.
$4000 Investment Only Just Helps Over Half
Dave showed, from studies carried out by the ICRAF, that a $1000 investment to rural households only helps 15% reach the 2$ a day mark. With $4000 not even helping 70% of the population of rural farmers.
With $4000 not even helping 70% of the population of rural farmers.
$2 Isn’t Enough
Although it is over the poverty line it isn’t a good enough incentive, a majority of farmers now sell their land for lump sums to developers. Which is arguably a better deal for most of them.
With an increase in centralisation of jobs to city centres, it will also become more difficult in the future to persuade farming generations to stay and help.
Dave concludes, those big companies that “support” these communities are doing this as more of a publicity stunt rather than them understanding the situation.
Help Can Come in Other Forms
In my opinion, to start to really help poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa investments into education, road developments and commerce establishment are needed.
These investments will aid the farming communities generations to come by building stronger economic platforms for their countries.
Although the talk by Dave hasn’t changed my career path drastically, the political aspects have inspired me to research more into rural communities. Especially whether the aid, we provide to 3rd world countries is really supporting the right areas.
Especially whether the aid, we provide to 3rd world countries is really supporting the right areas.