This review article argues that rural sub-Saharan Africa has suffered from a wide
range of disadvantages that have stunted its agricultural development. Agricultural
areas have been characterised by policy voids and neglect, and have failed to achieve
sustained development. A lack of incentives, rural investments, and institutional
support has hobbled African farmers. Any way forward for the agricultural areas
will rest on decisively tackling rural poverty. Many analysts have remarked on the
debilitating effects of traditional tenure whereby most Africans do not hold secure
title to the land they farm. Land tenure reform must be coupled with the pursuit of
the best that modern technology and research has to offer. African farmers are also
seriously disadvantaged by the subsidies that developed nations pay their farmers.
A renewed commitment to a more open trading regime between Africa and its main
trading partners is a sine qua non for Africa to prosper. In essence, for Africa fully
to realise its agricultural potential it needs urgently to transcend the methods and
cultural institutions of its past even though this may entail something of a shock to
the system and alienate certain vested interests. But this cannot happen without
political stability and good governance.