Agricultural Technology, Health and Nutrition Linkages: Some Recent Evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa
Investment in agricultural technology is crucial for countries in Sub-Saharan Africa in order for them to meet their growing demand for food at low cost. Current evidence provides support for the view that such investment is, indeed, profitable and does contribute to improved productivity. However, there is still a lack of empirical evidence derived from rigorously measuring the impact of technological change on household welfare, based on consumption, health, and nutrition outcomes. The few recent studies show that technological change improves income and food consumption. However, the impact on nutrition outcomes seems weak. This phenomenon is attributed to the weak relationship between income and food consumption, as well as between income and health expenditures. Given the strong link between morbidity and child nutrition in Africa, the weak link between income and health expenditures is a key limiting factor. As the review of the African case studies in this paper suggests, in order for technological change to have an appreciable effect, nutrition outcomes, investments in agricultural technology have to be accompanied by investments in health and environmental sanitation, better nutrition education, and, possibly policies that lower the trade off between employment and child care, especially for the primary child carer in technology-adopting households. Policymakers, however, need to be guided by more inter-disciplinary research to promote a greater understanding of how the links between agricultural technology and nutritional outcomes can be strengthened.
Eastern Africa Social Science Research Review (EASSRR) Vol. XVII No. 1 January 2001, pp. 1-14