in Bangor University Seminars

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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.

 

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