FARE-talk is to provide an enduring conversation about contemporary topics relevant to food, agricultural, and resource economics.
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[0:04] Brady: Welcome to FARE Talk, where we set out to provide enduring discussions on contemporary topics relevant to our economy, with particular emphasis on food, agriculture and the environment. My name is Brady Deaton Jr. of the Department of Food, Agriculture and Resource Economics at the University of Guelph. I'll be your host.
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[0:24] Brady: Today is August 28th, 2014 and I will be speaking to Dr. Thom Jayne about agriculture, land pressures, and economic development. Dr. Thom Jayne is a widely respected and well-published professor of international development in the Department of Agriculture, Food and Resource Economics at Michigan State University. Thom, welcome to FARE talk.
Thom: Hey Brady, glad to be with you.
[0:45] Brady: Thom, you and your colleagues, Derrick Heady and Jordon Chamberlain, recently edited a special issue for the Journal of Food Policy, and the title is Boserup and Beyond: Mounting Land Pressures and Development Strategies in Africa. Generally speaking, what motivated you into this area of research and what in particular is motivating this issue?
Thom: Mhmm. That's, Brady, if I, there's sort of a proximate reason, and um, there is a more long standing set of motivations. So if I will maybe start with the longer one, it kind of goes back to how I got into this business working on Africa and agriculture. I was a peace core volunteer after I got out of graduate, undergraduate school in the early 80's and I had an interest in seeing how two-thirds of the rest of the world lived. So, I got my fill of that for two years in a rural village in Ghana, and I was there to help them with agriculture but it became quickly apparent that they knew so much more about agriculture in the tropics than I did. One of the things that really impressed me from my two years there was how their people working in communities, how their hardest efforts could be undermined by a politician in the capital city just by the stroke of a pen. And that's sort of what made me realize that any attempt to do something useful for, you know, to deal with problems of hunger and poverty in Africa, I felt anyway, that I needed to get back into a, sort of a, position where I could speak to policy makers. And that's how I ended up getting into graduate school. But the observation that I came up with after two years in Ghana was that well, I think our textbooks and conventional wisdom about Africa, rural Africa anyway, is that these communities are fairly egalitarian and that land is relatively plentiful. It's not like Asia where you have these really densely populated areas. What it, even in the 1980's, I could see that there wasn't, that really wasn't true. People were constrained in the amount of land that they had, and it seemed to affect their potential to really expand and grow and so forth. You know, sort of the more proximate reason of that, is that having looked at almost every nationally representative data set in Africa, spanning 10 or 12 countries, now that I have really delved into, in every single one of them, we see this huge heterogeneity in land holding size. So most small holder households in Africa may have a hectare or less, whereas a small proportion of households may have 5 to 10 to 20 hectares. And, almost all of the marketed output will come from that top ten per cent of households, so much so that maybe two-thirds of African households sell almost nothing and many of those households are actually net buyers of food in the sense that they may sell something, but they end up buying back more than they sell. And, all of these indicators of welfare, asset wealth, consumption, incomes and so forth, very much seem to be correlated with variations in farm size. And another one of the kind of paradoxes that got us into this work, Jordan and I have talked about this at length before we actually started setting up the special issue, is that when you fly over Africa, and land in one of these capitals, and you look down and there is so much unoccupied land, it looks like it is so sparse. And yet, again, rural households often tell us in surveys that their limiting factor of production is land, and that they can't seem to expand or get access to more land. So there is this paradox of land scarcity amid the apparent abundance. So those are some of the motivations that we had getting into this special issue. And of course, there has been so much done on this, you know, previously, and we wanted to give a nod to Ester Boserup and the seminal work that she has done, and she kind of hatched a cottage industry of subsequent work on this by some of our luminaries in agricultural economics and the economics field including people like Hans Binswanger, Prabhu Pingali, you know, so many other people have done work on trying to explain how land intensification and you know, changes with population growth.
[6:20] Brady: And who was Ester Boseup, why is she in your title?
Thom: Mhmm. Okay, right. So, in 1965, Ester Boserup wrote a piece that took on Thomas Malthus. And you know, Thomas Malthus seems to have a bad name these days because of his, you know, his pessimism about the fact that population growth would outstrip the ability of the world to produce food, and so there would be these dire consequences down the road as the world became, you know, more populated. So what Ester Boserup tried to turn that around and said, well it's true, that as population density rises it's going to increase the demand for food, but she pointed out that communities tend to respond, much like the induced innovation theories of Vern Ruttan and so forth, and Hayami, communities respond to rising population pressure by intensifying on the scarce factor of production. And so as farm sizes shrink because there is subdivision and more allocation of land, and you know, you reach the land frontier. So Ester Boserup was saying that people would apply more fertilizer, they'd put more labour per hectare on the ground, they'd get more weeding done, so there would be certain forms of intensification that would allow food production to keep pace with population growth. So, that's been widely accepted and empirically validated in most areas, but we start to see that at very high levels of population density, that relationship seems to plateau, this relationship between population density and productivity. So, we're noticing that yes Boserup premises seem to hold, up to a certain threshold. And then beyond then, she never really explored whether this could go on at infinitum, could population density just continue to increase, or, you know, would something else have to happen? And actually, she did sort of talk about the need for off-farm employment to sort of kick in and transform these economies from agrarian societies into industrial ones. So I think most of her writing sort of assumes that once population density gets to a certain point, you're going to have people migrating into urban areas to sort of relieve the pressure. But, you know, one of the defining features of Africa, over the past, you know, 20 or 30 years or so, has been that the industrial non-farm growth has been very limited. And so this is you know, probably discouraged people from leaving rural areas and going into urban areas, even though urbanization is proceeding at a very rapid pace, it would probably be much greater if urban areas were experiencing more rapid employment growth in the non-farm sector. So, anyway, what we're finding is that beyond population density, rural population density of about 500-600 persons per square kilometer of arable land, we see that there's signs that intensification does not increase, and in fact, in some areas it declines. This may be related to over mining of soil, degraded soils, we're noticing that in many densely populated areas fallows have basically disappeared. In Malawi for example, southern Malawi, one of the more densely populated areas of Africa, there are no fallows anymore. So farmers are just intensively, year after year after year, cultivating their plots, and they're putting the same crop, they're not even rotating their crops very well because they have such small farm sizes and they need to grow their staple crop, which is maize in that area, to feed themselves. They end up, year after year, putting maize on that one hectare of land, so there is something like a social trap going on where in the short run, households are doing what's in their best interests, which is, you know, growing as much food as possible on their small plots, but the long run consequences of this are declining systemic productivity, you know, of the whole system which certainly, you know, does not bode well for kind of, future scenarios, unless there's major growth in the non-farm sector. You know, which, you know, there is some signs in recent years, that this, you know, could be picking up. But these are the scenarios that we are trying to address and deal with in this special issue.
[11:52] Brady: One of the, one of the really interesting things that you mentioned that I wouldn't mind expanding on a little bit is the, that you have this concern about population densities, and in many other countries, despite the general availability of land throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, for most of the countries, and in particularly in some of the regions within those countries, population is very dense, and so you are really, the land constraint, or the problems associated with the land constraint that you mentioned, are pronounced in those areas. Is that correct, and if so, what are some, you mentioned this in the beginning but, let's go back into some of the issues that are also influencing the land pressures, including some of the issues that you examine in the special issue of foreign direct investment in land.
Thom: Mm, okay. So there's, there are two Africas, at least [laughs]. One is the one that, that you see when you fly over Africa. Most parts of Sub-Saharan Africa are very sparsely populated and the majority of land is that first Africa. But then there is the Africa that most rural people live in, and most rural people live in densely populated areas, that's the other Africa. So one percent of the rural land in Africa contains 21% of its rural people, and 20% of the rural lands in Africa contain about 85% of its rural people. So it's incredibly concentrated, and the reasons for this are several. It has to do with high land areas in the region are generally of higher agro ecological potential, so people have kind of historically, settled in areas that are, you know, fertile and rain well. Colonial policies in a number of countries, have, you know, exacerbated that concentration of people on the small pieces of land, especially in, um, Southern Africa, kind of, where there were Colonial settlements, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya, Malaui and so forth, South Africa of course. And there are other factors that geographers have, um, nicely dealt with, about why this region is so nucleated, as you will. But, so, this has led to the kind of, um, paradox, that I think we talked about at the very beginning, that we are trying to uncover, of how could it be that so many small holder farmers complain of not being able to have access to land and expand, despite the fact that there is obviously so much unutilized land in the area. And, when you look at the agricultural development strategies, and even the rural development strategies of African governments, they almost never acknowledge this problem of land constraints. SO there are based on an implicit assumption that African farmers will be able to grow and expand and you know, they obviously talk about yield growth, and yield growth would be the most desirable way of um, expanding food production because it wouldn't involve the environmental cost of expanding into forest land and so forth. But, um, anyway, most government strategies do acknowledge the need for area expansion, uh, about 80 percent, 70 to 80 percent, of Africa's food production expansion over the past forty years have been in the form of area expansion. So, um, there almost seems to be a collision course here, where development strategies are based on certain premises which in reality, uh, may not exist. And so, we're trying, you know, have government because increasingly aware of the fact that area expansion in certain small holder areas where much of the rural population lives is not really a feasible option. And, in our special issue we tried to outline what are the, sort of, behavioural responses that people are taking in response to rising population density. And we identified four of them. The first one of course is Boserup's intensification. We're seeing some evidence of that, but, you know, there are two kinds of intensification, land intensification. The sustainable type and the unsustainable type. And we are seeing signs that much of rural Africa's intensification and response to rises in population density are of the unsustainable type, just reducing fallows, soil mining, more intensively cropping, um, farm land. There's, we are seeing very little response in terms of input intensification, fertilizer. Very little irrigation response, so there are some problems there. So that's the first behavioural response of the four. The second one is diversification into rural non-farm enterprise, so still staying in the communities that they are, and, you know, what's the scope for increasingly diversifying into non-farm employment. There's some signs of progress there, Africa's rural population is increasingly, you know, its income shares from non-farm is rising, but still much of the non-farm employment jobs that we are seeing people in are pretty low, low return, informal sector kind of poverty activities. Petty trading, hawking, um, you know, basket making and so forth. So then the third response that we are seeing is migration to urban areas. And that's occurring at a fairly rapid, plate, pace, in many parts of Africa. And not so rapidly in other places. So of course this sort of depends on the, you know, using the Harris-Todaro sort of framework, where labour is migrating to wherever it's the expected returns to labour are highest. And the, the prospects of migrating to urban areas are very much limited by the expansion of job growth, you know, in urban areas, which is a major problem. And then the fourth and final behavioural response that we lay out is, um, one that's been relatively hidden and under emphasized by research, you know, to date, and that's rural to rural migration. But it looks like rural to rural migration could be the most important response of all in some areas. And there's some evidence in places like Zambia and Mozambique that rural to rural migration is, you know, very important. We're seeing manifestations of that in terms of deforestation on the frontier, land conversion to agriculture at a very rapid pace. So this is basically people moving out of the densely populated areas, into the more sparsely populated ones and trying to make a go of it there. So those are the four responses that we, you know, are trying to document. The, one of the political angles here is that when you look at this rural to rural migration we are seeing the rise of a unique class of, even though the international media has identified foreign direct investment by international firms as, you know, part of this land grad, that is occurring in Africa, and that is, I don't want to mitigate the importance of that, it does seem to be occurring at a fairly rapid pace. What we are finding is that an even more rapid set of factors associated with medium scale farmers. These are domestic urbanites, largely urban people, who are finding land to be a profitable investment. So it seems that an even more important, source of land acquisition is among this group called medium scale farmers, who are farming between 20 and 100 hectares of land. And, when you look at who these actors are, they're, they tend to be not farmers at all. They're mostly urban, salaried employers, people in the public sector, in the private sector, but people with money, probably in the top 5 to 10 percent of the income distribution in urban areas. And ever since 2008 or so, they've found that land is a pretty attractive investment, not only for speculation as land values rise, but also because they can hire someone else to produce to be a manager, and to produce food for them, and that is a fairly high return activity. So we're finding that, that this, this class of medium scale emergent farmers over the past 10 years or so, has acquired land at an even more rapid pace than the large scale foreign investors. So combined, the, these two groups, are really transforming the whole farm sector in many countries. This medium scale group actually controls more land than the entire small holder farm population in three out of the four countries that we have look at specifically. So, they're a force to be reckoned with. And another thing that is interesting is how they are shaping the political economy of agricultural policy. Many of the farm lobbies of these countries, which are historically set up by colonial farmers, large scale, white farmers, these lobbies have now been taken over by medium scale African farmers, many of whom, as I keep reiterating, are actually urban based people. And, they have succeeded to some extent, in shaping agricultural policies, at least in some countries, to suit their interests. They input subsidy programs that are conferred to relatively large farmers and most of the survey data that we have shows that they are major beneficiaries of input subsidy programs where those programs are operating. And we also see, just like in the United States, you know, especially, you know, in the 1970s, 80s, 90s, when world prices were not that high, there was a, you know, price supports that were designed to, you know, improve farm incomes and provide incentives for production. Well, that's done in many countries in Africa via marketing boards, and, so the ones who can capture the greatest benefits from the price supports of these marketing boards are the ones who sell the most, and of course the ones who sell the most are households that have 100 hectares or so, which is, you know, quite a large farm by, um, most, by standards in most parts of Africa.
[24:18] Brady: Do we conflate all foreign direct investment with kind of land grabs, or how do we separate that issue, or how have you been thinking about that issue?
Thom: I can say a couple of points here. This first one is that, um, yes, some foreign direct investment has most likely had positive welfare effects on most communities in, in the countries where they have occurred. I think that that, that we can point to successful examples of large acquisitions that have had positive effects. Some of the research, especially research that is being done in Southern Africa, is documenting the spill over benefits. So, spill over benefits in the sense that, once a large scale farm starts operating, is there evidence that, that kind of knowledge and marketing services and the availability of farm inputs, do these things improve in the areas around it because the large scale farm attracts other private investment, and in value chain development, input supply and so forth, that has spill over benefits to small holder farmers that are operating nearby. I've seen some evidence that the answer is yes, to that. So then on the other extreme there is probably also, good evidence that some large scale acquisitions have been detrimental in their impacts on countries. So I think as you have implied, there's evidence of both, it’s very heterogeneous and of course, it depends on how, you know, the extent to which due diligence is done in the allocation of that land, whether it’s, you know, given to people who are really sincerely trying to develop that land and promote synergies with rural communities, or not. So...
[26:21] Brady: This seems to me also, just to add in here, gonna be one of the really big challenges because, you know, this issue of foreign direct investment in real assets is brought up in Canada, in the United States as well. But, generally the form of title and land ownership, we view the exchange as at least beneficial between the person who sold and who had rights to that land and the person who bought it. But it is quite a challenge getting back [Thom: Mhmm] to the issue you raised in the beginning when the underlying form of ownership is communal, how that process takes place. And I think, my sense is that that may be a continuing challenge.
Thom: Yea, yea. Yes, so, this is a very divided literature here. There is a lot of literature that has shown just what you've said, that the development of land markets is good for development, it’s beneficial to both buyer and seller, and there is some evidence showing that. But one of the things that we, that that literature tends not to deal with, and this is something that stein holden and kyosuke have dealt with in the chapter that is in the special issue, is the potential for takings to occur when tenure structure changes. So, to illustrate this, pretend there is a country that characterizes many of those in Africa, where there's land that's under statutory control right now, so there are people right now who have a titled deeds to that property, and then there's big tracks of land that are under, quote, unquote, communal tenure, and what that means is that the structure, the land is owned by the chief, and the traditional sort of power structure. So, these two systems have been, sort of, in tense coexistence for some time, but increasingly, states are trying to wrest control of customary land, and one of the ways in which this is done, is that either the state itself or a representative of the state, or even a wealthy individual will approach the chief and say, “Listen we want 100,00 hectares of your land, and I'm prepared to pay you something for it,” and sometimes the insinuation is if you don't take what I am willing to pay you, we're gonna find a way to get rid of you. And in fact a number of chiefs have been dethroned by the state in recent years, in a number of countries. So it’s really clear who is in control here. And so many chiefs have complained that they feel like their arms are being twisted to voluntarily give up land, either to the state, or to individuals who then take that land, and they go to the district council, and they convert it into state land. [Brady: Mhmm] There are procedures for doing this. Well this is how land markets develop. This is how, I think all over the world, that we are sort of seeing this in parts of Africa that are still under communal tenure, but most likely in almost all areas of the world, you know, land initially has not been titled, but the process of titling it, means that there is huge bonanza profits to the first recipient and then after that, when they sell that land at market price, they’re the ones who make the bonanza profits. And then, that land can be bought and sold to the most efficient, you know, user and you get these optimizing, you know, outcomes, that some of the literature about land markets talks about. But, the point I'm trying to emphasize and some of the articles in our special issue highlight this, that in many areas of the world, so let’s say North America during the 1800s, and more recently in Brazil, parts of Brazil, and the Amazon and the Sertao area, and now in parts of Africa, what we're seeing is that, you know, those with the power are able to, you know, eventually one way or the other, wrest control of land that is not, you know, communal land, and converted in some way into property, you know, tenure structures. So there's huge distributional, income distributional effects that result from that, and over time, there is probably some major efficiency advantages. But we're seeing this unfold in many parts of Africa right now.
[31:31] Brady: The other issue that I think that you raised, it's fascinating, it's, we've been looking at this issue in actually the Canadian context, is, you know, roughly 40 percent of the land in Canada is, you know, in the rental market, and many of the owners of that land are also not you who, are not necessarily farmers of the land. So this kind of structural issue that you are identifying in Africa is an issue that is also common here, but one of the important, then, questions that that leads us to, is how does that rental market function? Does that allow, um, essentially farmers to not invest all of their assets in land, and then access land to expand and increase production, or, and we find, you know, generally, in North America we think that rental market is fairly efficient though it has some of the political, economic, economy issues that you raised with respect to who gets the benefits of ag policy? The land owner or the farmer? How are those rental markets, you know, are, do you, do you have sense that they are equally as effective, or comparable to the North American experience?
Thom: Mhmm. Yea, good question. Well, there has been some recent work that I'm aware of on the effects of land rental markets in Africa. They are rising rapidly. Many governments who, I think, know that the land expansion potential is very very limited, their ostensibly, saying that they feel land rental markets are the desirable way for households to acquire land. So looking at the impacts of that, yes we see some of the efficiency outcomes that you were talking about. So, the renters of land tend to be ones that have smaller holdings per labour unit, so they're labour rich, land poor, and the ones that tend to be renting out land, have fairly high land to labour ratios. So we're seeing that, you know, as theory would predict, we're seeing, you know, changes in land use and land operation, motivated by changes in factor proportions. We're also finding that those who are renting land are able to increase their incomes significantly as a result of doing so. But it doesn't seem to have a major impact on poverty levels. [Brady: Mhmm]. So, you know, while they can do a little bit better as a result of these land rental markets existing, they're not having a fundamental effect on the structural problems that are keeping 60 or 70 percent of Africa’s rural population in poverty still. And it, it turns out that from about one-third to one-half of the total value of net output produced on these rented plots has to be given to the landlord. So, a renter has to be very productive in order to, you know, rent land, and have a significant impact, on their, one their incomes as a result of doing so. The amount of land that they are renting, by the way, on average, is about 1 [Brady: Mhmm] to, you know, 1.5 hectares of land. So not a great amount.
[35:03] Brady: It seems to me a theme that comes out of the papers, and correct me if I'm wrong, is that you really are advocating in the sense, what you call a small holder development strategy. And, I know you've mentioned that earlier, some aspects of that in the podcast earlier, but if you would, if you wouldn't mind summarizing, you know, what is exactly, a small holder development strategy, and how, you know, contrast that a little bit with, you know, an alternative strategy that may not recognize the small holder.
Thom: Mhmm, okay, great. Well, for about 40, 50 years, most development economists and agricultural economists have sort of taken it as received wisdom that structural transformation in Africa would need to follow, sort of, an agricultural led small holder led development strategy. So our, our luminaries, people like John Mellor, Bruce Johnston, Michael Lipton, you know, going through graduate school, it was sort of, I think most of the classic textbooks here taught us that, you know, just like in Asia, where the green revolution was pretty much a small holder based story, leading to structural transformation and transformation of the whole economy, this would be the course that Africa would need to take as well. Now that's been challenged in recent years, and probably one of the more prominent people who has taken that position on is Paul Collier, whose arguing that why should we, you know, continue to romanticize this small holder kind of led development when it hasn't shown very good signs of success over the last 40, 50 years. One of the, you know, obvious retorts to that is that, you know, we have to distinguish carefully between a dead end and just missed opportunities, where the policy environment and so forth hasn't really been favourable for small holder expansion. So anyway, this debate is going on, and I'm trying to be agonistic about it. But one of the compelling reasons I still feel that we cannot ignore a small holder led development strategy is simple demographics. Africa is a, has a very unique age pyramid right now, where 70 per cent of its population is under the age of 30. And 62 percent of its population is under the age of 25. So over the next two decades, there will be 350 million young Africans entering the labour force. And even under the most favourable assumptions about the rate of industrial growth and nonfarm wage expansion, non-farm’s only going to be able to absorb, at best, about half of that 350 million people. So that means that agriculture, and the informal economy will need to be able to absorb a huge number of young people coming into the labour force now, or else, there's going to be huge political problems and political risks associated with massive unemployment. There's been some work done on the, what are the elements in common of the Arab springs that have occurred in you know, Libya and Egypt, Syria and Algeria, and so forth, and some of that work has identified three things. One is massive youth unemployment. Second one is dissolutionment, youth dissolutionment with government. And the third one is ICTs and social media. And African leaders are increasingly aware that all three of those criteria characterize many of their countries. But anyways, the demographics here, just to reiterate this point, 350 million people entering the job market over the next two decades, that's greater than the entire population of the United States. So, we have to have a fairly labour intensive form of agriculture, it seems to me. So if I were to speak to Paul Collier about this, the questions I would be asking would be, how can large scale agriculture, that you know, is exceedingly a poor employer of labour, in can only, in general, hire one person per every 100 hectares of grain production, it's got a better ratio, labour intensity for cash crops, but for grain and most field crops, it’s about 1 labourer per 100 hectares. That's not the kind of system that is well matched to Africa's labour to land ratios, and its rising labour force. So one would think that a slightly more labour intensive form of agriculture would be needed to help provide this shock absorbed for the demographic boom that is going to be hitting Africa. And then there's quite a bit of work undergoing right now, that's looking at this inverse farm size productivity hypothesis. And this is being challenged as well. You know, the conventional wisdom has been that small farms are generally more efficient than large farms. But, even our work, we're looking at this question as well, medium scale farms versus small scale, and we're actually finding that medium scale farms are more efficient. Sometimes substantially more efficient producers than small scale. It can put more capital assets on, they're mechanizing, and they’re doing many things that small holder farmers are not doing. But even with that finding, I still don't feel that there is an open and shut case to support medium or large scale farms at the expense of small holder farming, because there are two other very important criteria, I think, for land allocation. In addition to relative efficiency, the next one is who is a more, what scale of farming is a better employer of labour? And then the third one is which structure of agriculture generates the greatest downstream multiplier effects, and sort of economy wide growth linkage effects. And on this point, the evidence to date generally supports a more broadly based agricultural growth strategy leading to much higher multipliers than one of say, Latifundia, Latin America, where the, you know, you can have rapid growth in agricultural, but if only 1 percent of the rural population is generating that growth, it certainly doesn't lead to the kind of growth effects that stimulate, you know, non-farm employment and so forth. So based on all of that, I think the three of us who edited this special issue, Derek Headey and Jordan Chamberlin and I are pretty convinced that there's, it's necessary to have a small holder led strategy at least as an important part of the mix, even though there may be important complimentary roles for large scale and direct foreign investors, and medium scale farms as well. So we're not trying to say there should be one at the expense of the other two, but certainly a policy that neglected small holder population, which still constitute the majority of the population in many of these African countries, that would be to African leader’s folly to do that.
[43:15] Brady: And do you have any, any particular policies that you find most attractive in terms of pursuing a small holder development strategy?
Thom: Yea, okay. Well, sometimes, yes, let me tick off five. The first one, and probably the most important over the long term, is investing in education. Basic education, secondary school and even higher education, higher tertiary education. And even though most rural Africans will never step foot on a college campus or university, we still feel that there can be such a transformational role resulting from upgrading the university systems in these countries, because there is something like an educational value chain, isn't there? Where investments and upgrading at the university level may flow through to secondary school, to primary school, to the agricultural colleges and vocational schools, and ultimately to the millions and millions of young people who are going to be entering the labour force over the coming years. So I think we should definitely prioritize education as it relates into agricultural value chains and the skill set of young Africans who are going, their, their productivity is going to depend on the level of training of people in the extensions systems and in the R and D systems and so forth. So that’s number one. Number two would be investing in physical infrastructure, at a much greater rate. Especially things like rural electrification. We're noticing that major investments, the artificial insemination of livestock, they tend to follow into areas that were recently electrified because they need cold storage. And all sorts of indirect productivity impacts for rural communities resulting from electrification. But more generally, investing in roads, feeder roads, ports, rehabilitating these dilapidated rail systems and so forth, that's number two. Number three would be industrial policy. Industrial, a good industrial policy that expands the supply of job opportunities in non-farm sector could be one of the most attractive ways of relieving the pressures on land and rural areas and improving, the you know, accelerating migration into productive non-farm activities. That's number three. Number four would be focusing directly on small holder agriculture. And given the fact that seventy percent or so of small holder farms are one to two hectares, we need to focus on technologies that they can use. So scale neutral R and D investments, improved seed varieties, fertilizer response of seeds, how to use fertilizer more efficiently, the whole set of agronomic practices that could, you know, restore soil fertility, soil testing, all the kind of nitty gritty but not very sexy interventions to promote sustainable intensification on small farms. And then the last one, I would say, would be urban planning. There are massive dislocations in many urban areas in Africa, and one study that I saw estimated that the seventy percent of Africa's urban populations live in slums. And so given that migration into urban areas is likely to continue, at a very rapid pace, over the next two or three decades, we had better get proactive about this and deal with the sanitation issues, the water, the water access issues, housing, health care, transport and so forth, to sort of allow these urban areas to be more hospitable places to live, and in so doing, that may also relieve some of the social pressures and even the political risks that seem to be associated, well, that many African states, are unfortunately characterized by.
[48:12] Brady: Thom, I appreciate you being with us here today, especially really sharing with us a lifetime of both experience and research into this issue. I am aware that undergraduate and graduate students will be listening to this podcast and I wonder if you might just identify a couple of issues that you think are really important for future research in this area.
Thom: Hmm, okay Brady, that's wonderful. Well, certainly land and water are going to be increasingly scarce resources globally for some time to come. So trying to come up with, you know, efficient and equitable ways of distributing these increasingly scarce resources seem to be major challenges looming on the horizon, everywhere, even in the United States. So, I would think that to the extent that people coming online, thinking of how they can make a contribution to their societies, dealing with land and water issues in the coming decades I think would be a really interesting and rewarding thing for people to deal with. Just in my own experience, since, you know, at a young age going and living for two years in an African village was so impressionable to me, and I learned so much about, kind of the way people think, and you know, being able to challenge some of the things that I learned in school. Were they actually right? Or do I need to modify my perceptions, kind of based on my own experience here. I went through a lot of that for the two or three years that I spent, kind of, in a village, and I still think that, kind of where I'm at now in, in some major ways, was defined based on that experience. So I would also encourage other people who are kind of getting involved in these field and in similar fields to see for themselves and put themselves in the same position that, you know, many of the people we are trying to help, are experiencing on a daily basis.
[50:43] Brady: Dr. Thom Jayne, thank you for spending time with us today.
Thom: It's been a pleasure, Brady. Thanks for having me.
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[50:57] Brady: Thanks for joining us at FARE Talk. We hope you will continue to check our website for updates and the latest podcasts.
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