Investment in pastoralists could help combat east Africa food crisis

Underinvestment in livestock-based systems in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya have contributed to the extreme food insecurity in the Horn of Africa. Governments need to build a coalition of support for pastoralists to tap their potential for economic development in east Africa,  Jeff Hill, director for policy at USAid, said. The crisis in the Horn has focused the minds of policy makers on the need to improve food security in the region, with a particular focus on small farmers and how to build up their resilience to forestall extreme hunger in the future. Despite the G20 agriculture summit in Paris in June, emergency meetings in Rome, Istanbul and Addis Ababa, governments have been criticised for failing to deliver on previous pledges that might have forestalled the current crisis. Read more here.
Mark Tran, Guardian 

Ethiopia, first African country to launch green growth plan

Ethiopia is expected to unveil a plan that aims at realising a carbon-free economy by 2020, at the climate change conference to be held in Durban in December. Activists and researchers have warned that if not enough is done to finance vital projects for climate change adaptation and mitigation in Africa, the continent will face more severe climate risks in future. Recent estimates indicate that mitigation efforts in developing countries could cost much more than adaptation investments. Read more here.
The African Report

Horn of Africa Drought, Food Crisis: Agricultural Trade Policies Questioned

Almost twelve million people are in need of food aid because of drought and conflict in the Horn of Africa region, according to many reports. As the crisis grows, some experts are questioning the role of agricultural trade and investment policies in the region. A joint statement from intergovernmental agencies and a humanitarian aid group has said that the “slow-onset” humanitarian crisis leaves millions of women, men, and children vulnerable to “devastating hunger and malnutrition.” According to economists, there has been a neglect of agriculture and, importantly, of sustainable agricultural practices. Luck of investment in smallholder agriculture, livestock disease and unsustainable grazing, and food price inflation have played roles in contributing to the current crisis. Read more here.
International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development

Ethiopia: Are “land grab” deals a path to food security?

The push by multinational corporations and foreign governments in recent years to obtain fertile land in African countries such as Ethiopia, Madagascar and Tanzania has spurred debate over whether the move will lead to development or is simply a “land grab” that further threatens the continent’s food security. In Ethiopia, farmland is being bought or leased on an immense scale. The country has approved 815 foreign-financed agricultural projects since 2007. Meanwhile, Ethiopia, with over 85 million people, remains one of the hungriest countries in the world. Some 2.8 million people are currently in need of food aid. But the government is convinced that mechanised agriculture is important to reach development goals. Up to now, little is understood about the impact of these land deals. Read more here.

The return of ‘Afro-optimism’

For the first time since the seventies experts agree on Africa’s promising growth prospects and potential to become a major investment frontier – though risks still abound. Here are some of key factors to watch in 2011. The continent has grown at an average of five percent per year since 2000. Demonstrating an unexpected macroeconomic solidity, most countries were relatively unharmed by the 2007-2008 global financial meltdown. Indeed the continent is estimated to grow at an average of 5.5 percent in 2011. Growth estimates for the next five years show that seven out of ten fastest growing world economies will be from Africa, particularly Ethiopia, Mozambique and Tanzania. Read more here.

Kenya must not submit to the scramble for Africa’s land resources

In December 2008, there was talk about Kenya leasing more than 100 000 hectares of land on the Tana River Delta to Qatar. Local activists lobbied hard against the move. If such plans get implemented, Kenya will have joined a rising number of African countries such as Ethiopia and Madagascar, which have faced large scale land-grabs in recent years. This scramble for land in Africa by rich food-insecure nations was triggered by the 2008 increase in food prices. The phenomenon has huge social-economic and political implications for Africa. Read more here.

Rising global interest in farmland: Can it yield sustainable and equitable benefits?

The 2007-2008 relatively high and volatile food prices reminded many import-dependent countries of their vulnerability to food insecurity and promoted them to seek opportunities to secure food supplies overseas. About 70% of demand for land acquisition has been in Africa, and countries such as Ethiopia, Mozambique and Sudan have transferred millions of hectares to investors in recent years. The lack of reliable information has made it difficult to measure the impacts of this. Read more here.