Agriculture in Africa is set to grow; but continent’s infrastructure curbs food production

Between 1997 and 1999, about 228-million hectares, or just 22%, of sub- Saharan Africa’s arable land was in use. On present estimates, by 2030 that figure will rise to 300-million hectares, or just 28% of the total. There is clearly room for Africa to grow more food. “The big constraint is infrastructure,” says Nick Vink, a professor of agricultural economics at Stellenbosch University. Particularly infrastructure for irrigation and its electricity, in addition to transport costs for foods produced, are the main constraints. In South Africa, for example, cheaper rail transport is monopolised by the mining industry, which makes food more expensive to produce. Read more here.

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Government Choked By Maputo Declaration

Liberian Government signed the agreement of Maputo Declaration, which calls on all African governments to allocate 10 percent of their National Budgets to the agricultural sector in an effort to achieve 6 percent average annual growth needed in the CAADP, but it fall short of implementing the agreement. The Liberian farmers made the call for more effort in budget allocation increase for agriculture along with their civil society counterparts at a three days “Applied Budget Analysis Training Forum” organized by the Foundation for Human Rights and Democracy (FOHRD) in collaboration with IDASA’s Economic Governance Program (EGP). Read more here.

Africa: Bullish about the agricultural future

After long period of relative neglect, African agriculture is a hot topic, with a substantial growth in production and a new interest among major donors in funding the sector. The food price spike in 2008 and the world economic crisis pose both challenges and opportunities for African farmers. Growing protectionism in Asia is one of the new challenges for African agricultural produce. A seminar that took place in London looked at the constraints and opportunities facing Africa’s farmers. Read more here.

Destroying the World’s Peasantry? Criticism of Agricultural Investment principles

The World Bank, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Secretariat recently presented seven “Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investment” (from FAO, IFAD and UNCTAD) try to make sure that large-scale land investments result in “win-win” situations, benefiting investors and directly affected communities alike. This article suggests that the principles lack some oomph. Read more here.

Financial skills key to Kilimo Kwanza success

Dar es Salaam: For the ambitious Kilimo Kwanza (agriculture first) programme to be successful, the Tanzanian government must improve infrastructure and train farmers in financial skills, a member of South Africa’s Free State provincial legislature, Abrie Oosthuizen, told journalists shortly after meeting members of Tanzania’s Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, Water and Livestock in Dar es Salaam on 28 May. He noted that the poor state of infrastructure in Tanzania was an obstacle to agricultural development. Read more here.

Ghana agriculture projects to get $100-million from World Bank

Ghana’s agricultural industry will receive $100 million from the World Bank this year to fund projects aimed at boosting production in the West African nation. The money, which may be handed out in July, will be used for road-building in farming communities, irrigation projects and farm equipment, said Gladys Ghartey, director of the World Bank unit at the Accra-based Finance Ministry. Read more here.

Call for free market in grains in East Africa

Players in the East African regional food chain are pushing for the maize sub-sector to be allowed to operate freely for more food security and improved intra-regional trade. The Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC) wants finance ministers in the EAC trade bloc to consider lifting the ban on cereal exports and instead encourage intra-regional dealings. Read more here.