Structural Transformation of African Agriculture and Rural Spaces (STAARS)

The economies of Africa are finally enjoying robust economic growth, and the region shows early signs of agricultural productivity growth that can be stimulated further by appropriate policy interventions to help reinforce and sustain that growth. But much remains to be done. African agriculture today remains relatively unproductive by global standards, with an especially pronounced agricultural labor productivity gap that directly explains its high and persistent levels of ultra-poverty spatially concentrated in rural areas.

Virtually every one of today’s high income economies enjoyed sustained agricultural productivity growth coupled with transformation of the rural non-farm economy that jointly sparked rapid industrialization and inclusive economic growth. The ‘structural transformation’ central to economic development describes the process by which low-income societies, in which agriculture absorbs most labor and generates most economic output, become high-income societies characterized by a relatively smaller but more productive agricultural sector.

In order to develop policy and programmatic interventions that promote a progressive structural transformation of African agriculture and that ignite more broad-based, inclusive, and sustainable income and productivity growth, policymakers need rigorous evidence on the causal factors that drive differences in productivity and well-being dynamics in rural Africa. The Structural Transformation of African Agriculture and Rural Spaces (STAARS) project pursues in-depth, rigorous, policy-oriented research on the causal determinants of productivity and income growth, asset accumulation, and effective risk management in African agriculture and rural spaces.