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«Famine Prevention in Africa: The Long View Carl K. Eicher Reprint No. 3 1987 MSU INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT PAPERS C a r : K. E i c h e r, C a r l ...»

Famine Prevention in Africa:

The Long View

Carl K. Eicher

Reprint No. 3 1987


C a r : K. E i c h e r, C a r l Liedholm, a n d Michael T. Weber


T h e MSU I n t e r n a t i o n a l D e v e l o p m e n t P a p e r s e r i e s i s designed t o f u r t h e r t h e

c o m p a r a t i v e analysis of i n t e r n a t i o n a l d e v e l o p m e n t a c t i v i t i e s in A f r i c a, L a t i n A m e r i c a, Asia, a n d t h e N e a r East. T h e p a p e r s r e p o r t r e s e a r c h findings o n h i s t o r i c a l, a s well a s c o n t e m p o r a r y, i n t e r n a t i o n a l d e v e l o p m e n t problems. T h e s e r i e s includes p a p e r s o n a w i d e r a n g e of topics, s u c h a s a l t e r n a t i v e r u r a l d e v e l o p m e n t s t r a t e g i e s ; n o n f a r m e m p l o y m e n t a n d s m a l l s c a l e industry; housing a n d c o n s t r u c t i o n ; f a r m i n g a n d m a r k e t i n g s y s t e m s ; food a n d n u t r i t i o n policy analysis; e c o n o m i c s of r i c e production in West A f r i c a ; t e c h n o l o g i c a l c h a n g e, e m p l o y m e n t, and i n c o m e distribution; c o m p u t e r t e c h n i q u e s f o r f a r m a n d m a r k e t i n g surveys; f a r m i n g s y s t e m s a n d f o o d s e c u r i t y r e s e a r c h.

T h e p a p e r s a r e a i m e d a t t e a c h e r s, r e s e a r c h e r s, policy m a k e r s, d o n o r a g e n c i e s, a n d i n t e r n a t i o n a l d e v e l o p m e n t practitioners. S e l e c t e d p a p e r s will b e t r a n s l a t e d i n t o F r e n c h, Spanish, o r Arabic.

Individuals a n d i n s t i t u t i o n s in Third World c o u n t r i e s m a y r e c e i v e single c o p i e s f r e e of charge. S e e inside b a c k c o v e r f o r a list of a v a i l a b l e p a p e r s a n d t h e i r prices. F o r m o r e

i n f o r m a t i o n, w r i t e to:

MSU I n t e r n a t i o n a l D e v e l o p m e n t P a p e r s D e p a r t m e n t of A g r i c u l t u r a l E c o n o m i c s 7 A g r i c u l t u r e Fiall Michigan S t a t e University E a s t Lansing, hlichigan 48820- 1039 U.S.A.


C a r l K. Eicher D e p a r t m e n t of Agricultcral Economics Michigan S t a t e U n i. ~ e r s i t y Re~rinted from: Food f

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This paper i s published by t h e D e p a r t m e n t of Agricultural Economics, Michigan S t a t e University, under Food Security in A f r i c a C o o p e r a t i v e A g r e e m e n t DAN-1 190-A-00-4092-00, jointly funded by t h e Bureau of Science a n d Technology (Office of R u r a l a n d Institutional Development) a n d t h e A f r i c a Bureau (Of £ i c e of Technical Resources), U.S. Agency f o r International Development, Washington, DC.

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@ All rights reserved by Michigan S t a t e University, 1983.

Michigan S t a t e University a g r e e s t o and does hereby g r a n t t o t h e United S t a t e s Government a royalty-free, nonexclusive and irrevocable license throughout t h e world t o use, duplicate, disclose, o r dispose of t h i s publication in a n y manner a n d f o r a n y purpose a n d t o p e r m i t o t h e r s t o do so.

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T h e Food Production-Population R a c e

T h e Hunger and Poverty B a t t l e

P r i m e Movers of Agricultural Development

Technology Generation

Human C a p i t a l and Managerial Skills

R u r a l Capital Formation

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Food Security Policy Dilemmas: Senegal and Zimbabwe



A t t a c k i n g t h e Two C o r e Problems

Foreign Aid and F a m i n e Prevention

S u m m a r y

R e f e r e n c e s

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A d e c a d e ago, a World Food C o n f e r e n c e was convened in R o m e because of t h e i m m e d i a t e t h r e a t of f a m i n e in t h e Indian sub-continent and t h e Sahelian region in West Africa, t h e drawdown of world food reserves t o t h e i r lowest levels in 25 years and a d r a m a t i c i n c r e a s e in food prices o v e r t h e 1972-74 period. T h e overriding assumption in t h e minds of many c o n f e r e n c e d e l e g a t e s was t h a t real food prices would c. 2tinue t o rise in t h e 1970s and t h a t m a s s s t a r v a t i o n was a d i s t i n c t possibility because of rapid populatinn growth and t h e lack of a cushion of global reserves. But today t h e world is "awash witn grain." India supplied 100,000 tons of grain (4 shiploadsj t o Ethiopia in 1985, and t h e EEC, J a p a n, and North A m e r i c a a r e c o m p e t i n g f o r third world grain markets.

Although t h e world food crisis vanished a f e w ye2rs a f t e r t h e 1974 R o m e conference, food production in Sub-Saharan A f r i c a grew a t half t h e population growth r a t e since 1970. Moreover, f a m i n e In Africa in 1985 c a p t u r e d world a t t e n t i o n and resulted in 7 million tons of grain imports, triple t h e 1983 level. But t h e Sahelian f a m i n e of t h e e a r l y seventies and t h e Ethiopian f a m i n e of 1985 a r e d r a m a t i c manifestations of longer-terrn problems t h a t have been building up f o r t w o decades--increasing r a t e of population growth, lagging food production, malnutrition and pervasive poverty ( 6 ).

This paper t a k e s t h e long view of f a m i n e prevention and e x a m i n e s t w o i n t e r r e l a t e d problems: (a) t h e food production--population r a c e and (b) t h e hunger-population b a t t l e in Sub-Saharan Africa, a v a s t sub-continent o f 4 5 s t a t e s, 1,000 e t h n i c groups and complex f a r m i n g s y s t e m s (17, 18, 22, 26).

"Reprinted from: Food for t h e Future: T h e Philadelphia Society f o r P r o m o t i n g Agriculture Bicentennial Forum Proceedings 1785-1985, Philadelphia, PA: T h e Philadelphia Society f o r Promoting Agriculture, 1985, pp. 82-101.

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c o m b a t i n g hunger and poverty in t h e 1980s and 1990s. Moreover, t h e LJ. S. Congress is not g e t t i n g good advice on Africa. F o r example, t h e O f f i c e of Technology Assessment (OTA),t h e advisory o f f i c e t o t h e Congress, recently c o m p l e t e d a shallow report (16) t h a t counted a l l t h e t r e e s in t h e f o r e s t but did not c o m e up with a credible plan t o address hunger and poverty in Africa. In many sectors--rainfed farming, irrigation and livestock--more aid c a n n o t b e absorbed with integrity given Africa's limited absorptive c a p a c i t y, lack of profitable technical packages, project m o d e of delivering aid, and i n e f f e c t i v e donor coordination. Donor a t t e n t i o n should s h i f t from short-term pricing policy t o focusing on t h e prime m o v e r s o f agricultural development as a policy package on a country-by-country basis. E a c h of t h e s e prime movers m u s t b e examined a s p a r t of a c o r e i n v e s t m e n t package covering a period of 10 t o 20 years.

It's t i m e t o jettison t h e donors' fixation on increasing t h e quantity of aid t o Africa and refocus public aid and PVO a s s i s t a n c e on increasing t h e efficiency of foreign assistance. As p a r t of this process, t h e following problems should b e addressed by PVOs and public aid agencies: absorptive capacity, indigenous s c i e n t i f i c and managerial c a p a c i t y, r e c u r r e n t costs, s t a n d a r d s of performance, donor coordination, and marshalling African support f o r t h e prime movers--the investments with 10 t o 20 y e a r s gestation periods--of agricultural development.

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1. ABT.Associates. 1985. Senegal Agricultural Policy Analysis, Report to USAIDiSenegai, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

2. AID. 1985. Plan for Supporting Agricultural Research and Faculties of Agriculture in Africa. Washington, May.

3. Blaclcie, Malcolm. 1981. "A Tirne to Listen: A Perspective on Agricultural Policy in Zimbabwe," Harare, University of Zimbabwe, Department of Land Management, WorlingPaper 518 I.

4. Brady, Nyle. 1985. "Toward a Green Revolution for Africa," Science, Vol. 227, March 7.

5. Caldwell, John C., and Pat Caldwell. 1984. "Cultural Forces Tending to Sustain High Fertility in Tropical Africa," Canberra, Australian National University, (draft).

6. Eicher, Carl K. 1982. "Facing up to Africa's Food Crisis," Foreign Affairs, Fall.

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Eicher, Carl K., and John M. Staatz. 1985. "Food Security Policy in Sub-Saharan 9.

Africa," Paper presented a t the XIXth Conference of the International Association of Agricultural Economists, Malaga, Spain, August 25-September 5.

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Lele, Uma. 1986. "Growth of Foreign Assistance and Its Impact on Agriculture."


in: Mellor, Delgado and Blackie.

Mellor, John W. 1979. "The Indian Economy: Objectives, Performance and 13.

prospect^.^' In: India: A Rising Middle Power, edited by John W. Mellor, Boulder, Westview Press, pp. 85-1 10.

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17. Reutlinger, Shlomo. 1984. " P r o j e c t Food Aid and Equitable Growth:

Income-Transfer Efficiency First," World Developrnent 12(9):901-9 1 1.

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19. Reutlinger, Shlomo, and Marcelo Selowsky. 1975. Malnutrition and Poverty:

Magnitude and Policy Options. Baltimore: T h e Johns Hopkins University Press.

Schuh, G. Edward. 1985. "Strategic Issues in International,4griculture," 20.

Washington, World Bank, (draft).

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27. Valdes, Alberto, ed. 1981. Food Security f o r Developing Countries, Boulder, Wes'view Press.

28. World Bank. 1985a. Annual R e p o r t, 1984. Washington.

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1I)P No. I F Carl K. Eicher r t Doyle C. Daker, "Etude critique de la recherche sur Ie developpernent agricole en Afrique subsaharienne," 1985, (435 pp.).

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Copiei rnay be obtained from: MSU International Development Papers, Department of Agricultural Econo~nics,7 Hall, f4ichigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824-1039, 1J.S.A. All ordcrs must he prcpaid Agric~~lture in United States currency. Please do not send cash. Make checks or money orders payable to hlichigan State University. There is a 10% discount on all orders of 10 or more sale copies. Individuals and institutions in the Third

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