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.
The newly-established TradeMark Southern Africa project, and its website, is set to play an important role in promoting closer regional integration in Southern and Eastern Africa. Besides providing technical advice to SADC, COMESA and the EAC on key components of intra-regional trade policy, infrastructure and trade logistics, the project’s website provides users with daily news updates, sourced from local newspapers and agencies, on trade issues across Southern and East Africa. The 15-20 news updates are tagged by key categories and converted into sectoral RSS feeds – agricultural trade is one of the primary news feeds provided by the website. Read more here.
Similar to Malawi’s National Dialogue, Zambia’s FEATS National Dialogue was held in Lusaka on 4 October 2010. The presentation by NRG FEATS Project recommended ways for government to provide complementary services, reduce policy confusion, provide trade facilitation infrastructure and regional & MT negotiations, promote emergence of farmer organisation to encourage a coordinated approach to export promotion, reprioritise its expenditure on agriculture and other policy interventions. Read more here.
The United Nations is committed to helping African nations combat hunger and malnutrition. This was addressed as the Executive Director of World Food Programme (WFP) of UN stressed the benefits offered by food-based social protection programmes for African leaders gathered in Uganda, for the African Union summit. Food-based social protection programmes, which are being implemented in 16 African countries, can be one of the largest and most reliable purchasers from smallholder farmers, and might help to create community infrastructure such as roads and irrigation. Read more here.
The Millennium Villages Project was piloted in Kenya and Ethiopia in 2005. The goal is to show how an integrated approach to community-level development can translate the international MDG agreements into ground-level breakthroughs throughout rural sub-Saharan Africa. The Millennium Villages Project is a ten-year initiative and involves community-led delivery of interventions for agriculture, education, health, and infrastructure. Read more here.
Monitoring the budgets of local and national governments is a key instrument in the toolkit of any accountability activist. Active budget monitoring can both prevent and expose corruption and can also lead to improved public services and infrastructure. See this free visual tool for sharing your graphs and data. Read more here.