ments could also bring a return of the “Middle Kingdom” comparable returns or offer impact at as high a scale.
arrogance that contributed to the demise of the millennia-old africa-wide biological control efforts against the cas-
Chinese imperial system, with profound direct and indirect sava mealybug have benefitted 10 to 15 million farm
implications for the world. While 21st century China is too families and has generated over US$100 in income for
much of a world player to revert to the self-satisfied smugness every US$1 spent. Public breeding of improved maize
that left it vulnerable to 19th century Western imperialism, varieties has raised incomes on 5 to 10 million farms
world leaders would do well to remember and respect that of all sizes. Similarly, cotton research and marketing
Chinese attitudes are based not just on their power today, programs have provided the impetus of rural develop-
but also on their millennia-old achievements and traditions. ment for one million farm families in francophone af-
I share nye and Wang’s hope for the reduction in poten- rica. dairy research in Kenya has raised productivity to
tial for conflict that could accompany a rise in China’s soft triple that of surrounding countries, raising incomes for
power—a future positive-sum relationship between our two 600,000 smallholder farms and commercial dairies.
countries. Ill-suited to innovation? as the preceding examples
attest, african smallholders have responded and inno-
GUY Salvatore alItto vated, repeatedly and en masse; when productivity gains
Professor of History, East Asian Languages and are stable, favorable market incentives converge.
Civilizations, University of Chicago. Unlikely to be transformative? Historically, major
increases in agricultural productivity have preceded
industrial revolutions, partly because rising agricultural
Forgotten Farmers income triggers consumption diversification into non-
foods, in part because it stimulates variety in marketing,
processing, input supply, and related services, and in
Seventy percent of africa’s poor live in rural areas
part because higher agricultural productivity permits
and work primarily in agriculture. Yet their productiv-
the release of labor and savings from agriculture with-
ity remains the lowest in the world, with farm labor
out raising food prices or hindering industrial growth.
productivity at one-half and land productivity only
Ironically, early investments in agricultural productivity
one-third of the levels attained in developing asia.
facilitate economic diversification out of agriculture.
Paul Collier focuses on the promotion of urban
However, many donors have abandoned agriculture
industrialization, the consolidation of agriculture on