chapter  5
25 Pages

Agro-pessimism, capitalism and agrarian change: Trajectories and contradictions in Sub-Saharan Africa


The importance of agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) appears to be obvious and is widely noted in the literature on African1 development. For example, the Commission for Africa (2005) states that ‘agriculture contributes at least 40 per cent of exports, 30 per cent of GDP, up to 30 per cent of foreign exchange earnings, and 70 to 80 per cent of employment’. There is however wide variation across countries in the relative importance of agriculture measured in terms of its contribution to GDP and exports, as well as aggregate evidence that agriculture’s share of GDP has declined significantly in many countries. Still, the significance of agriculture as an occupation (either as ‘main’ or ‘secondary’ occupation in both rural and peri-urban areas) is well established.