2022 Economic Development Analysis

Agriculture, Economic Growth and Poverty Reduction

Mats Hårsmar

What are the most effective ways to reduce poverty in low-income countries? During long, a debate has been waging over the role of agriculture and the agricultural sector in poverty reduction. Historically, today’s rich countries have almost all started their journeys to prosperity by developing their agricultural sectors. But is this ‘agriculture first’ hypothesis still valid for today’s poor countries, given fundamentally changed preconditions?

This working paper investigates where the issue stands today. It finds the thesis still generally valid, which begs the question why agriculture has a relatively low profiled role in today’s Swedish development cooperation.