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Sixty-three percent of the population in sub-Saharan Africa live in rural areas and are employed in agriculture-related work. Agriculture is highly labor-intensive. Given that labor is the predominant asset of the poor, agriculture is the sector where the poor can most easily benefit from sustainable growth.

The overall picture of the agricultural sector’s performance in Africa is encouraging. Yet, in many countries substantial efforts are needed to sustain and accelerate agricultural development for reducing poverty and hunger. Agricultural development can come from different sources. While in the past the increased use of inputs and the expansion of agricultural land accounted for a large part of agricultural growth in Africa, improvements in productivity through innovation to increase output per unit of input will be a major driver of growth in the future.

To increase productivity in a sustainable way requires maintaining environmental quality and resources. Keeping up with increasing and changing demands from a grow- ing population, and achieving food security remains a considerable challenge. It is essential also to prevent poverty related migration flows. Such agricultural innovations require enhanced investments in research and development and connecting social policy with labor-productivity enhancing policies, as for instance pursued in so-called productive safety net programs in Ethiopia in the context of the current drought severe problems.