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 February 2011

The price of food is at the heart of this wave of revolutions

An article in today's Independent makes the link between high food prices and revolutions across North Africa and the Middle East. And it's not just countries north of the Sahara. Last week in Senegal, an army veteran died after setting fire to himself in front of the presidential palace, emulating Mohamed Bouazizi, the market trader whose self-immolation sparked the revolution in Tunisia.

Against this background the US Department of Agriculture is predicting that grains markets will remain tight this year and into 2012, with international prices likely to continue to push higher. Many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have been protected from the global surge in food prices in recent months because of healthy domestic harvests. That situation could turn about rapidly if rains were to fail this year. There are already worrying signs in East Africa.

What's clear is that there needs to be massive investment to increase Africa's production of maize, rice, wheat and soyabeans, to meet the continent's own needs but also to supply global markets. Done properly and repsonsibly that investment can also generate jobs and income earning opportunities for hundreds of thousands of young people.