A cyclone of events has hit us globally – high food prices which are the prelude to civil unrest, crop failure and climate change. All continents face these challenges but Africa is the hardest hit. The inability of Africa to sustain its agricultural deliverables has increased malnutrition and poverty. A shift in how we conceptualize and measure food security is needed. The answer, according to Kofi Anan, lies in altering the paradigm of what we grow, effective partnerships, innovative leadership and the presence of active small-scale farmers who are willing to drive development on the continent. Mr Anan has clearly kept abreast with current vocabulary dominating global agricultural forums and platforms. Reforming the agricultural framework may or may not have the desired impact that Mr Anan envisions, but his articulation of the problems facing Africa are simple at best. His solution still sounds like a developmental quick-fix. He places emphasis on the need for investment in the agricultural value chain without specifying what type of investment. Let’s assume he means human and fiscal investment. The start of the value chain is the policy-making process which is still a top-down approach. Policy makers outline policies and hope that there is enough money allocated to see it fully implemented. Poor planning sabotages agricultural policies in Africa. Adding more people will not make the planning process better. More money will not make implementation sustainable either. The top-down approach needs to be scrapped especially if small-scale farmers are at the cornerstone of development. Participation by small-scale farmers in the policy-making process and implementation will not only serve policy makers but will save government money as there will be no wastage i.e.: corruption. Innovative partnerships need responsive governments and this can only be done if the people who these policies are meant to serve are involved from start to finish in the value chain. Their presence will force government to be accountable for the partnerships they forge, but more importantly, this will foster political will by government to implement these policies successfully. The ultimate result will be sustainable agricultural policies by African governments. Africa needs to feed itself before it can feed the world. Read more here.
Posted on March 1, 2011 by idasa