June, 2009

Fixing Famine: How Technology and Incentives Can Help Feed Africa

  • Daniel Sacks

    Director of Donor Relations
  • Jasson Urbach

    Primary Field Researcher, Enterprise Africa! and Free Market Foundation of South Africa
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Rising food prices caused a worldwide food shortage in 2008 that led to riots and protests around the globe.  Though food prices have now declined, the struggle with hunger for many Africans is far from over. Some African countries' hunger woes reflect systemic problems with land tenure, interventionist agricultural policy, and poor education. In lieu of tackling these long-term problems with even longer-term solutions, technology can be used to temporarily alleviate hunger and allow for economic development.

This Policy Comment presents four types of simple technologies that can make small plots of lands more productive and increase farmers' outputs and incomes: hybrid and genetically modified seeds, greenhouses, irrigation, and plug seedlings.  If African governments reduce barriers against these technologies, the people can mitigate hunger and begin to address the larger systemic problems.

Citation (Chicago Style)

Urbach, Jasson and Daniel Sacks. Fixing Famine: How Technology and Incentives Can Help Feed Africa. Mercatus Policy Series, Policy Comment No. 25. Arlington, VA: Mercatus Center at George Mason University, 2009.