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Agricultural intensification: The status in six African countries (Uganda, Malawi, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Nigeria and Niger)

Boserup and Ruthenberg (BR) provided the framework to analyze the impact of population growth and market access on the intensification of farming systems. Prior evidence in Africa is consistent with the framework. Over the past two decades, rapid population growth has put farming systems under stress, while rapid urbanization and economic growth have provided new market opportunities. New measures of agro-ecological potential and urban gravity are developed to analyze their impact on population density and market access. The descriptive and regression analyses show that the patterns of intensification across countries are only partially consistent with the BR predictions. Fallow areas have disappeared, but cropping intensities remain very low. The use of organic and chemical fertilizers is too low to maintain soil fertility. Investments in irrigation are inadequate. In light of the promising outcomes suggested by the Boserup-Ruthenberg framework, the process of intensification across these countries appears to have been weak.

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