Status update: reports on the state of agriculture in Africa

Insights from the latest developments and investments into African agriculture are pivotal to learning lessons for increasing productivity and transforming continental nutrition and food security.

Learning lessons from the latest developments in agriculture are key to informing other African countries seeking to reform their sectors © Joe Nkadaani/CIFOR

Agriculture employs over half of Africa’s population and yet low mechanisation levels, as well as climate change, are among the key factors constraining productivity levels. With a continental population that is expected to double by 2050, concerns around food security and nutrition also continue to grow.

In the recent Africa Agriculture Status Report, published by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, the authors state that, in order to increase African food production, African governments must go about solving production and investment issues. However, as they also emphasise, “It is not a question of what needs to be done, it is how.” This critical report emphasises the need to foster political will to establish clear development strategies to drive agricultural transformation. For example, in Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda and Senegal, examples are provided of where governments are working to increase farmers’ access to finance, land and markets through new legislation and ICTs. The lessons learned are key to informing other African countries also seeking to reform their agricultural sectors.

However, a critical lesson learned from previous development strategies in African agriculture is that improving food security and nutrition is also essential. The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2018 provides insights into how efforts to improve food security are progressing but emphasises how the impacts of climate change and population growth will affect future agricultural development efforts. As with other key contemporary nutrition initiatives, this publication emphasises that not only do people require sufficient food, but they also need to be well nourished. The issue of malnutrition is becoming increasingly crucial; FAO estimates that the prevalence of undernourishment has increased over the last 2 years to 10.9% of the global population. One striking factor behind this trend is that the failure to reduce malnutrition is closely associated with increases in conflict in several parts of the world.

The need to implement reforms built upon previous successes is shared by the authors of Agricultural Investment Funds for Development. This FAO report highlights how, since 2010, investment funds have become an increasingly popular vehicle for development agencies to use in the agricultural sector. However, the authors argue that lessons learned must be used to further shape the way future agricultural investments are managed. For example, investment fund managers are becoming more willing to fund agricultural projects, so long as they increasingly benefit from their investments. If there is to be enough food to feed a global population of over 9 billion in 2050, it is estimated that, each year, investments of €71 billion must be made in the agricultural sector across developing countries.

Africa Agriculture Status Report: Catalyzing Government Capacity to Drive Agricultural Transformation
By the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa
AGRA, 2018; 218 pp.
Downloadable as a PDF file from: https://tinyurl.com/y9mzcvxv

The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2018: Building Climate Resilience for Food Security and Nutrition
By R Vargas, E I Pankova, S A Balyuk et al.
FAO, 2018; 182 pp.
ISBN 978-92-5130-571-3
Downloadable as a PDF file from: https://tinyurl.com/y8xsebff

Agricultural Investment Funds for Development: Descriptive Analysis and Lessons Learned from Fund Management, Performance and Private-Public Collaboration
Edited by C Miller, T Ono & M Petruljeskov
FAO, 2018; 142 pp.
ISBN 978-92-5130-061-9
Downloadable as a PDF file from: https://tinyurl.com/y8e4arl7

Alex Miller

The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) is a joint international institution of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States and the European Union (EU). CTA operates under the framework of the Cotonou Agreement and is funded by the EU.