Thursday, December 1, 2011

Big Bag of Africa: Agriculture and Millennium Villages

A new paper is out that finds almost zero impact from the Millennium Villages Project. Wanjala and Muradian surveyed Kenyan MVP recipients and their non-recipient neighbors in the district and found that while "the project caused a 70% increase in agricultural productivity among the treated households, tending to increase household income, it also caused less diversification of household economic activity into profitable non-farm employment, tending to decrease household income." To say Clemens cheers would not do his sentiments justice, but Blattman certainly has a more skeptical take on the paper. He shows that there may be a problem with their evaluation strategy, effectively matching away the most important gains. If so, then "MVs actually raise incomes by 10% and assets by a third." The cordial debate between Clemens and Blattman on the latter's blog is impressive and worth reading. (HT: The .Plan that got it from MR, who got it from CGD, which is where I ought to have read it in the first place.)

Record heat in Zimbabwe killed several hundred livestock recently due to lack of water and good grazing land. Climate change is of course suspected to have contributed. The difficulty is in identifying how many cattle would have died had temperatures been just 1 degree Celsius less, or how much more likely this event was as a result of climate change.

In Nigeria, there are increasing tensions between cattle-herders and farmers in Abia as cattle are reported to have destroyed crops worth millions of Naira (tens of thousands of US dollars). Note, the article has a heavy pro-farmer bias.

Closer to my home, a new national government program in Adamawa State hopes to increase farmer yields by 300% with improved varieties of sorghum. The project is led by Prof. Babtunde Obilana, who plans that the government will buy more of the sorghum to use for its school feeding program.

Meanwhile, the LDS Church has a third stake in Port Harcourt. A stake is a group of congregations, and this means that church membership in and around Port Harcourt has grown by around 50% since 2002 when the last stake was created. It is very likely that new stakes will also be formed in Benin City, where the three current stakes have grown to some of the largest in the Church worldwide and could easily be split into 5-6 stakes.

Mozambique's national statistics arm has a new report showing that 99.9% of their agriculture is for subsistence only.

Botswana's government tries to make sure that government subsidies don't go to farms that are not being actively used, a process called black listing. This article discusses blacklisting figures for the last few years and the costs involved.

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