Agriculture for peace: promoting agricultural development in support of peace

Agriculture for peace: promoting agricultural development in support of peace

Why poor agricultural production and poverty contributes to conflicts

This report considers the circumstances under which poor agricultural performance might fuel violent conflict, and how robust agricultural development can contribute to peace and security, especially in countries prone to civil war. It is based primarily on a review of the literature, together with personal experiences of contributing authors.

The report identifies three main ways in which agriculture and conflict are linked:

  • first, poor agricultural development, resulting in poverty for large numbers, can increase the motivation to join armed forces in an attempt to improve one's standard of living; conversely, broad-based agricultural development can raise the opportunity cost for the rural poor and make violence less attractive to them
  • secondly, agriculture is linked to food emergencies, and is also destroyed by conflicts
  • third, agriculture is linked to poverty alleviation and governance; though both resource scarcity and resource abundance can be associated with conflict, the likelihood of conflict also depends on additional political and social factors.

The report suggests that explorations of the nature of the link between agricultural development and civil wars should be thoroughly explored and in each case, considering how agriculture relates to:

  • motivations for the conflict
  • the provisions of funds to the parties involved in the conflict
  • the “opportunity costs” for individuals involved in the conflicts
  • post conflict reconstruction and employment of ex–combatants
  • hunger and food security in conflict situations
  • how it relates to poverty alleviation and governance.

It notes that, as there is shortage of data on the specific contributions of agricultural development to conflict, detailed studies of the dynamics of each case are required.

The paper concludes that efforts to reduce violent conflict require particular attention to agriculture and in particular to reducing rural poverty, as it is countries with large populations of rural poor that are particularly vulnerable to conflict. It argues that agricultural development is important not only in preventing conflicts, but in reducing the likelihood of a recurrence of violence.

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