African Agricultural Workers Less Optimistic About Economic Future

Women_smallholder_farmers_in_Kenya
Smallholder farmers in Kenya

One in five African adults work in the agricultural sector, but the vast majority of them aren’t happy about it, according to a series of Gallup polls published this week.

Despite being heralded as the way forward for the region amid sweeping predictions of a coming African boom, farmers in sub-Saharan countries are less excited about their future than people in other sectors or even the unemployed.

“Farm workers living in Africa rate their current and future lives worse than non-farm workers in the region, which is not wholly unexpected given their low household income,” reads a Friday report from Gallup on the subject. “But their ratings are just as pessimistic, if not more so, than those who are not working,” it says.

Respondents were told to rank the quality of their life now and in the future based on a scale of 1 - 10. Though participants in all categories weren’t feeling incredibly satisfied currently, most had high hopes for the future.

African Workers Pessimistic: Gallup Results of a Gallup poll show what workers in sub-Saharan Africa expect for the future.

Researchers also asked people whether they had experienced pain, worry, sadness, stress or anger the day before to create a score on the “Negative Experience Index.” Farm workers scored higher here than anyone else.

The number of “yes” responses creates a score on the “Negative Experience Index.” And it turns out farm workers are scoring higher than anyone else.

It’s not surprising, considering the results of another Gallup poll that showed farm workers struggled to afford food. Based on 2012 data, more than 58 percent of the agricultural workers said that at times they couldn’t buy enough food to feed their families, and 52 percent were unsatisfied with water quality.  

“The poor life ratings, lower incidence of positive experiences, and higher incidence of negative experiences reinforce how difficult life is for farm workers living in Africa,” the report reads.

But they hope this will change as sub-Saharan countries experience more growth.

“If GDP continues to grow in sub-Saharan Africa, it is possible there will be a trickle-down effect to farm workers large enough to encourage measurable improvements in their well-being,” the report reads. 

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