Since the publication of the 2008 World Development Report, there has been a vigorous discussion in the development community about agriculture; today’s publication of the World Bank’s Agriculture Action Plan is a milestone in that process. To stimulate further discussion on the subject, here are some thoughts from a garden-variety economist.
1. The oft-quoted statement, “GDP growth originating in agriculture is about four times more effective in raising incomes of extremely poor people than GDP growth originating from other sectors,” is an arithmetical point, not an economic point. It simply reflects the fact that 75 percent of the world’s poor depend on agriculture for their livelihoods.