Plantar las semillas del crecimiento de África

WEST LAFAYETTE, INDIANA – Tras décadas de malas noticias, al menos tres tendencias importantes están cambiando las perspectivas de África: las políticas agrícolas, los cambios demográficos en el ámbito rural y la productividad agrícola apuntan a mejores oportunidades para las familias campesinas en todo el continente. Son tendencias que avanzan demasiado lento como para aparecer en los titulares noticiosos, pero si se las mira acumulativamente ofrecen rendimientos mucho mayores de la inversión pública y privada en la agricultura y el desarrollo rural.

Cada país enfrenta un conjunto de circunstancias diferente cada año. Las novedades reciben la mayor atención, como la posibilidad de que los inversionistas extranjeros puedan controlar grandes áreas de tierra cultivable. La diversidad espacial también es importante, porque implica que cada lugar difiere del promedio total. Sin embargo, para África como un todo, en el último tiempo al menos tres lentas tendencias han tenido puntos de inflexión que ofrecen nuevos y revolucionarios incentivos para empresarios y gobiernos.

El primer punto de inflexión es político. Datos recientes de un estudio del Banco Mundial que compara las políticas agrícolas alrededor del mundo desde 1955 muestran por primera vez lo mucho que han avanzado los gobiernos africanos para reducir los costes que significan para los campesinos las barreras arancelarias, las juntas de regulación de precios y otras intervenciones impuestas por regímenes anteriores ( Las distorsiones en los precios inducidas por las políticas africanas llegaron a su punto culminante a fines de los años 70, y desde entonces las reformas han eliminado cerca de dos tercios de esa carga, facilitando de gran manera el crecimiento de la productividad y el alivio de la pobreza. Otras reformas adicionales podrían significar más beneficios, pero hoy por hoy ha desaparecido gran parte de las limitaciones impuestas a los campesinos africanos por los gobiernos poscoloniales.

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