2022 Economic Development Analysis

Agriculture, Economic Growth and Poverty Reduction

Mats Hårsmar

A key question that continues to face policymakers and practitioners in development is: What are the most effective ways of reducing poverty in low-income countries? A debate that has long been waged relates to 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 holds, begging the question: why does agriculture have a relatively low profile role in today’s Swedish development cooperation?