Should Africa Protect its Farmers to Revitalise its Economy?
This paper looks for the deeper causes of African problems in the evolution of agriculture and world markets. In the history of developed countries, population growth raised agricultural prices, which facilitated investment in agriculture, so that more people could be employed and fed. But today, industrialised agriculture in Western countries causes chronic oversupply and low prices in international markets. Western countries themselves have protected their farmers against the effects, but African farmers remain unprotected and suffer from dumping policies that exacerbate the downward pressure on farm-gate prices. While subsidising their own agribusiness sectors, Western experts and politicians try to convince African leaders that they should not protect their farmers. These double standards hinder the revitalisation of African agriculture and cripple economies, for without a rise in farm incomes there are no domestic markets where manufacturing and services can develop and warm up for international competition.