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Africas Changing Agricultural Development Strategies Sub-Saharan Africa has often been viewed by the development field as a homogenous entity with common problems requiring common strategies Most countries in the region gained independence from European colonial rule in the early 1960s but the process of forming agricultural strategies began much earlier Agricultural strategies are perhaps the most important component of overall development strategies in a continent where on average agriculture still accounts for 70 percent of employment 40 percent of exports and 33 percent of GDP During the last 25 years African policymakers have been bombarded with often conflicting advice on agricultural development strategy from an increasing array of international development agencies This advice has been motivated by frequently divergent theoretical views of how agricultural development works and how it affects overall economic welfare More than anywhere else in the world most countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have been heavily influenced by a relatively small group of donor agencies and expatriate thinkers in the allocation of public goods investments including those affecting agriculture and in the elaboration of development strategies During this time the presence of local agricultural specialists has been limited local institutional development has been weak and strong government has often been absent It has led to at least nine qualitatively different dominant agricultural paradigms since - the 1960s all heavily influenced by actors outside Africa Generally sequential in time these paradigms have been applied evenly across the region taking little note of country-specific conditions Figure 1 Figure 1- Dominant Paradigms of Agricultural Development in Africa Commercialization via Cash Cropping 1910 - 70 Community Development
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