Seminars

Seminar Two- Growing one’s way out of poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa, feasible or not?

Dr Dave Harris
Dr Dave Harris.

Today’s seminar was given by Dave Harris he is a senior researcher in the SENRGY department at Bangor University.

He also works at the World Agroforestry Centre, Nairobi the main area he works in is the Sentinel Landscapes project, this a global project based at multiple site. They measure the interactions between people and rural landscapes.

The seminar’s main themes as the title suggests were land management, and technological advances in agriculture as a means to reduce poverty and the importance of these advances in agriculture for the people of Sub-Saharan Africa.

Farming one acre fund credit
This is Anne, a farmer in rural Kenya. She is supported by the One Acre Fund organization.

The accepted poverty line in Sub-Saharan Africa is currently set at $1.90 PDI.

5 poverty stats on Sub-Saharan Africa

Linking farming productivity and reduced poverty makes sense to most people at face value as if people have a way to support themselves financially, whilst also allowing them to feed their families then poverty in the area is going to decrease as a result.

However in rural Africa rainfall is an issue, if they don’t get enough rainfall their crops die out and so does any money invested into those crops therefore farming is seen as a risky business and many people are put off by this.

Dave Harris encourages local people to make use of the land they have.

African-Farm
Over 200 million hectares of unfarmed land is located in Sub-Saharan Africa, that’s almost half of all the unfarmed land in the world! Credit: Fotolia/cronopio

If rural farming households were to invest in agricultural technologies would the benefits out weight the costs? Dr Harris suggested that while there would be benefits they would only be minimal and not enough to breakthrough the poverty line.

This brings us to the conclusion that families are unlikely to be able to “grow themselves out of poverty” but they could still benefit from using any land that they have for farming purposes in order to help educate their children on farming and to help support themselves on a small scale.

My Opinion

My opinion on this is with the work of projects like the One Acre Fund and the commitment of local people it could be possible to make a difference, maybe not on a national scale but at least on a local scale.

It’s however extremely unfortunate that this depends on families having the land, time to commit to farming and the initial start up funds as well as the right weather conditions.

Hopefully in the future the climate will improve and have more favourable conditions for this to be a sustainable solution to poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Has this affected my future plans?

This seminar has opened up my mind to the possibilities of research projects in developing countries and the affects they can have on major issues.

I am now more aware of the issues that countries re facing around the globe and I will be following the work of groups like One Acre Fund as well as keeping up to date with new research in this area.

farming standing one
To follow Anne’s story click here.
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