The Effectiveness of Development Aid for Agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa

Journal of Economic Studies, 46(2), pp. 284-305(2019)

35 Pages Posted: 11 Sep 2017 Last revised: 12 Jul 2019

See all articles by John Ssozi

John Ssozi

Baylor University

Simplice Asongu

African Governance and Development Institute

Voxi Heinrich S. Amavilah


Date Written: September 8, 2017


One of the key economic development challenges facing Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is its low agricultural productivity. Governments, donors, and foreign investors have underinvested in African agriculture even though research evidence shows that higher agricultural productivity would boost economic growth and poverty reduction. Solutions to the problem require a number of interconnected strategies, including, but not limited to, research on seeds and inputs, extension services, rural development, credit, institutional, and trade and price stabilization policies. We use the system two-step Generalized Method of Moments to examine whether official development assistance (ODA) for agriculture and rural development is helping to boost agricultural productivity. We find a positive relationship between ODA and agricultural productivity. However, when broken down into the main agricultural ODA recipient sectors, there is a substitution effect between food crop production and industrial crop production. While there exists a positive relationship between ODA for industrial and export crops output per worker (agricultural productivity), ODA for food crops has a negative relationship. Better public institutions and economic freedom are also found to enable agricultural productivity growth and to increase the ODA effectiveness. We correct the results for spurious correlation assuming that more ODA might be allocated where agricultural productivity is already increasing due to some other factors. Concerning the determinants of ODA allocation, we find that the allocation of ODA for agriculture is primarily determined by agricultural need, and that the expected effectiveness increases the ODA receipts. Finally, there is a weak ODA-led structural economic change effect in SSA. Labor released from agriculture to the urban sector(s) has a positive market effect on agriculture but is not engendering significant structural economic transformation.

Keywords: Foreign aid; Agriculture; Development; Africa

JEL Classification: F35; F50; Q10; O10; O55

Suggested Citation

Ssozi, John and Asongu, Simplice and Amavilah, Voxi Heinrich S., The Effectiveness of Development Aid for Agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa (September 8, 2017). Journal of Economic Studies, 46(2), pp. 284-305(2019), Available at SSRN: or

John Ssozi

Baylor University ( email )

Waco, TX 76798
United States

Simplice Asongu (Contact Author)

African Governance and Development Institute ( email )

P.O. Box 8413
Yaoundé, 8413

Voxi Heinrich S. Amavilah

REEPS ( email )

P.O. Box 38061
Phoenix, AZ 85069-8061
United States

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