Series: Publications

The Impact of Conflict and Political Instability on Agricultural Investments in Mali and Nigeria

Alpha Kergna, Temesgen T. Deressa, Jessica Pugliese, Mwangi S. Kimenyi, Jideofor Adibe, Moussa Djiré, Abigail J. Jirgi, and Andrew Westbury

Mali and Nigeria are two countries in West Africa
with great potential to increase their agricultural
production. However, they have also recently experienced
severe episodes of internal conflict, which have
negatively influenced agricultural productivity and investment.
Conflict can adversely affect agriculture in
several ways. For example, conflict can disrupt the
supply and distribution of inputs and outputs, create
price shocks and cause massive displacement of labor.
These compounding challenges make agricultural
investments difficult to maintain in politically volatile

Several studies have analyzed the impact of conflict
on the broader economy, at both the macro and micro
levels. Macro-level studies emphasize the impact of
conflict on growth. For example, Gyimah-Brempong
and Corley (2005) demonstrate that civil wars have
a significant negative impact on the growth rate of
per capita income. Sector-level studies examine how
agriculture, specifically, is affected by conflict. For instance,
Messer, Cohen and D’Acosta (1998) estimate
that during periods of conflict, agricultural production
drops an average of 12.3 percent each year. Other
studies have narrowed the focus to specific crops.
For example, Ksoll, Macchiavello and Morjaria (2010)
show how post-election violence negatively affected
the export volumes of the cut flower industry in Kenya.

The reverse causal relationship between growth and
conflict has also been examined. Mounting evidence
suggests that shocks to growth due to extreme climate
events (such as deviations in normal precipitation
and temperature) may increase the risk of insecurity.
For example, in a global study of human conflict from
10,000 BCE to the present day, Hsiang, Burke and
Miguel (2013) find that for each standard deviation
change in average precipitation and temperatures,
the frequency of interpersonal violence increases by 4
percent and intergroup conflict by 14 percent.1 In sub-
Saharan Africa specifically, a proportional change in
rainfall (from the previous year) of 5 percent increases
the likelihood of a civil war the following year by 50
percent (Miguel, Satyanath and Sergenti 2004). While
climate shocks alone are not a necessary or sufficient
cause of conflict, the above research findings are useful
in understanding the relationship between growth in
the agricultural sector and conflict, especially considering
the projected effects of climate change on global
rainfall and temperature over the next century.



Jideofor Adibe

Associate Professor of Political Science at Nasarawa State University Keffi