Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Improving Agricultural Productivity in Africa

August 6, 2009. Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington.

Following the announcement at the G-8 Summit in Italy of a major commitment to global food security, CSIS hosted Dr. Monty Jones from the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa to discuss FARA's work and reforms in African agricultural practice. In describing emerging opportunities for international collaboration in African agricultural development, Dr. Jones emphasized priority areas for win-win U.S.-Africa partnerships.

Video: Johanna Nesseth Vice President for Strategic Planning interviews Dr. Monty Jones

The objective of Dr. Jones’ presentation was to present what Africa is doing to develop its agriculture and why the United States and other countries should be interested in partnering with the continent to solve the growing world food crisis. As Dr. Jones phrased it, “agriculture is the backbone to economic growth and can reduce poverty.” Africa has gone from an agriculture exporter to an agriculture importer—a change that could become problematic when exporting countries may struggle to feed their own populations. Therefore, investment in agriculture is beneficial in multiple ways because food insecurity increases famine, civil wars, extreme ideology, and immigration—issues of great concern to the American government and all countries.

On the African agricultural front, they are looking to collaborate more on agricultural research and technology, invest in infrastructure development, land and water management, and to invest in its population, of which more than half are involved in some form of agriculture. According to Dr. Jones, the opportunities for partnership are now. With the G8 pledge, attainment of stability in many African countries since the 60s and 70s, and the amount of arable land, Africa is ready to take agriculture to the next plateau.
Nevertheless, for Africa and its partnerships to be successful, Dr. Jones calls for capacity building in all sectors of agriculture (researchers, extension, and farmers), an institutional reform, female empowerment (as they are involved heavily in agriculture but are not involved in research, science, and other areas), an increase in farm subsidies, among other necessary factors for agricultural development.

Though Dr. Jones and the African continent are looking to bring agriculture to the forefront again, there is one thing they most understandably want understood: “Africa must be able to feed itself first.” With that in mind, they set out to solve their own food insecurity problems, and contribute to world’s growing problem.

Audio Aug 6, 2009: Harnessing the Spirit of L'Aquila: Improving Agricultural Productivity in Africa

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Task Force on the Global Food Crisis has released a new report, "A Call for a Strategic U.S. Approach to the Global Food Crisis" which calls for modernizing and doubling emergency assistance, making rural development and agricultural productivity foreign policy priorities, revising the U.S. approach to bio-fuels, urgently acting to conclude the Doha Development Round, and creating a strategic U.S. approach to global food security.


CSIS press release Harnessing the Spirit of L'Aquila: Improving Agricultural Productivity in Africa
Abt Associates 30/07/2009 Abt Associates Participates on CSIS Global Food Crisis Task Force
Earth Day Network 21/08/2009 The Hunt for Food Security