Whether for profit or social motives - and often both - an increasing number of investors are targeting opportunities in African agriculture. At the same time innovative approaches for deploying aid to support farming businesses linked to smallholders are emerging. This blog provides a snapshot of who is doing what, where and how.

27 October 2010

Africa can achieve food and nutrition security through agricultural development

As fears increase about the impact of another global food crisis on poverty in Africa, a ten-member panel of development experts from Europe and Africa have launched a new report. The report, Africa and Europe: Partnerships for Agricultural Development, The Montpellier Panel, provides an overview of the state of European investment in African agriculture, highlights African priorities in agriculture and nutrition, and makes recommendations for ensuring global food price stability and strengthening partnerships between Europe and Africa.

The report comes at a time when Brazil, China and India are scaling up their investments and partnerships in various sectors across Africa, and Africa is taking the lead in boosting its own agricultural development. Europe risks being left behind as a key partner to tap the huge potential of the farm sector in Africa. GDP is now rising in 27 of Africa's 30 largest economies-both in countries with significant resource exports and in those without. That growth is coming from a variety of sources, not just oil and other natural resources, but also agriculture, finance, retail, and telecommunications.
The report portrays an Africa vulnerable to spikes in food prices, yet also lays the groundwork for unprecedented progress in food production. Meanwhile, Europe has made big promises for a massive increase in agriculture aid, but has yet to bridge the gap between rhetoric and action. The current murky state of European assistance obscures its record as historically Africa's most reliable partner.
  • Average wheat and coarse grain prices are projected to be 15-40% higher over the net decade in real terms relative to 1997-2006 (OECD, FAO)  
  • By 2030, the population of Sub-Saharan Africa is still projected to be about 52% rural based. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the agricultural sector accounts for over 80% of the labour force and 50% of the GDP  
  • If Africa could raise yields on key crops it could increase the value of its agricultural production by $235 billion over the next two decades.  
  • Coupled to this, if Africa could shift a proportion of cultivation to higher value crops such as fruit and vegetables, the continent would benefit from a further $140 billion annually by 2030