The African Association of Agricultural Economists invites you to participate in its 4th International Conference in Tunisia. The theme of the conference will be “Commercializing Agriculture in Africa: Social, Economic and Environmental Impacts”. The meeting will be held in the coastal city of Hammamet.
Commercializing Agriculture in Africa: Social, Economic and Environmental Impacts.
There is no doubt that agriculture still remains a key pillar of most African economies. In many countries a large part of the population lives in rural areas and engages in small scale farming, and in often rudimentary supply chain activities that move surplus produce from the land to the consumer. While these activities are often conducted on a small scale and with few modern inputs, social and economic changes are sweeping across the continent and even the agricultural sector is becoming commercialized in country after country. Social changes include rapid urbanization and the greater participation of women in the labour force, while economic changes have been boosted by the global commodity boom, but also by the increased demand that has come with urbanisation and greater formal sector employment.
In more recent times, two new modes of production have become more evident; the export of commercial family farms using hired labour (familiar to all parts of Southern Africa) and the growth of a class of commercial small scale farmers whose land holdings are increasing and who are increasingly resorting to hired labour. This raises two important questions:
- What growth path will different African countries follow in the future, and how can policy influence this path?
- What are the economic, social and environmental impacts of the chosen growth paths?
The dynamıc growth of African agrıculture, technological and process innovatıons that are workıng, private sector growth and participation, expandıng regıonal trade, value added processıng and food manufacturıng are some of the trends that are shaping these changes. The shape of this growth, especially whether it is inclusive or not, will have spillover effects, particularly in agriculture and mainly in gender terms, in regard to women’s empowerment and active involvement and the use of information and communication technologies for development.
The challenges these issues continue to present to policy makers, researchers, scholars and other social scientists will form the main discussion areas at this conference. With the triennial conference we aim to provide a platform for serious deliberation on these issues, both in terms of a deeper understanding of current trends, and in terms of preparing for an uncertain, albeit exciting future for our continent.