Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Awakening Africa's Sleeping Giant

Awakening Africa’s Sleeping Giant: Prospects for Commercial Agriculture in the Guinea Savannah Zone and Beyond summarizes the findings of the study on Competitive Commercial Agriculture for Africa, a collaborative effort led by the World Bank and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. (WB 2009, 236 pages)

Based on a careful examination of the factors that contributed to the successes achieved in Brazil and Thailand, as well as comparative analysis of evidence obtained through detailed case studies of three African countries—Mozambique, Nigeria, and Zambia—this report argues that opportunities abound for farmers in Africa to regain international competitiveness, especially in light of projected stronger demand in world markets for agricultural commodities over the long term. This provides reasons for optimism regarding the future prospects for agriculture as a major source of inclusive growth in many parts of Africa. At the same time, the report concludes that success will not be achieved easily.

Making African agriculture competitive will depend on getting policies right, strengthening institutions, and increasing and improving investments in the sector. Recent progress observed in a number of African countries, while encouraging, is still very tenuous and could easily be reversed by bad policy choices. The recent global food crisis, while it has created opportunities for African producers, has also engendered calls for quick-fix responses that could underminecompetitiveness over the longer term.

See in particular, the paragraphs page 13 and page 17 of the executive summary (new technologies are required but research in Africa should be less fragmented, more focussed and better coordinated at regional/continental/global level ; biotechnologies could prove useful but not under any context ; there is a need to rethink advisory services to support innovation pathways, in partnership between farmers, public agencies - including research- and civil society)

Analysis of the Sleeping Giant report based on a workshop organised by the Future Agricultures Consortium at which Hans Binswanger was the main presenter: 21-22 June 2010