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AGRA. 2014. An assessment of agricultural policy and regulatory constraints to agribusiness investment in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria and Tanzania. 173p.
A key theme from the five country studies is that policy and regulatory changes will only take a country so far. The agribusiness investment climate is shaped by many other factors, which are noted in this report. These factors are critically important in agribusiness development and can overshadow agribusiness specific policies and regulations, which when reformed may only relax relatively minor bottlenecks. Deep-seated constraints to agribusiness development are discussed in the report
The world faces a major agricultural challenge. We must, over the next few decades, find ways to deliver nutritious, safe, and affordable food to a growing global population
that is projected to reach 9 billion people by 2050. Stress on our land and water, increase in soil degradation, salinization of irrigated areas, migration of youth to urban areas, climate changes, are among the many risks that are negatively affecting the agricultural production potential in many countries around the world. The need for a comprehensive solution to global food and nutritional security is urgent.
Our progress in ensuring a sustainable and equitable food supply chain will be determined by how coherently the persistent challenges are tackled. This will also determine
our progress in reducing global poverty and achieving a uniquely African Green Revolution. Fortunately, Africa is endowed with abundant natural resources, including about 60% of the world’s arable land, some of it still virgin land. These resources, if effectively and efficiently harnessed, could reduce the threat of food insecurity.
Humanity is at an environmental crossroads, and the long-term welfare of literally billions of people is at stake. Climate change has been sneaking up on us for many decades – some say ever since the advent
of the Industrial Revolution – but it is only relatively recently that steps began to be taken to confront what I have called a ‘creeping catastrophe’. In 1989, the United Nations established the UN Framework
Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and called for global action to reverse the alarming, but at the time, not well-understood climate trends.
The UNFCCC explicitly requested Member States to enact effective environmental legislation, and that new environmental standards and ecosystem management objectives be embraced. Since then,
considerable progress has been made, both in terms of our scientific understanding of climate change and its likely impacts, as well as in the willingness of governments to acknowledge and address the
Five years have passed since AGRA was formally established in late 2006 with funding from The Rockefeller and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundations. In that time, a number of others have joined in our efforts, and with our many partners we have accomplished much, as detailed in this Report. Yet the urgency of AGRA’s mission has not diminished. Today more than ever we must move forward with catalyzing an African Green Revolution, one that fits the circumstances unique to our continent.
Africa contains a multitude of diverse and often challenging production environments. It is also blessed with a number of large and potentially very productive agricultural areas, and contains 60% of the world’s uncultivated arable land. Resource-poor smallholder farmers – about 70% of them women – produce over 80% of Africa’s staple foods, and they do so using mainly traditional production methods on all too often degraded soils, applying small amounts of fertilizer if they can afford it, and relying on unpredictably
changing rainfall patterns.
It was a truly eventful year for AGRA and its many partners, and indeed for African agriculture. United in the belief that there has been enough talk, many governments, development organizations, and private sector partners took concrete steps in 2010 to end poverty and provide food security across the continent. As evidenced by the actions
and commitments made during the September African Green Revolution Forum, our collective pace is quickening dramatically as we build on our successes, listen to farmers, innovate as we move forward, and scale up what we know works.
It is none too soon. Prices for food and other basic commodities rose sharply in 2010 and continue on their upward trend. They surpassed the peak in 2008 that sparked the last food crisis and, according to FAO, higher food costs and local shortages are unlikely to be temporary. Africa is especially at risk. It is still the only continent that does not grow enough food to feed itself.
The past year saw a significant improvement in global food security, thanks to record grain harvests and a continued replenishment of global food stocks. Yet movement towards food security at the global level is a poor indicator of progress in different parts of the world. Sadly, in Africa hunger has never been worse. Some 300"million Africans
now lack enough food each day, and food prices in most of sub-Saharan countries are higher than a year ago.
Despite a recent reawakening to the importance of agriculture in development, food security in Africa remains a goal – and an elusive one at that. Achieving this goal requires
a uniquely African Green Revolution, one that puts smallholder farmers at the heart of the development agenda, promotes change at each step in the agricultural value chain, and
emphasizes equity and protection of Africa’s biodiversity and other natural resources.
In 2008, global production of major cereal crops set a world record of about 2.15 billion tons. The harvest was large enough not just to meet world demand for food and feed but also to rebuild dangerously depleted global grain reserves. And yet Africa still struggles to feed its people. In fact, hunger on the continent has never been more rampant, with nearly 220 million Africans lacking enough food to eat each day. Food prices across Africa rose more than 60 percent in 2008 and, while the global recession contributed to
a pull back in commodity prices later in the year, they will undoubtedly rise again as an economic recovery takes hold.
It is a sad fact that Africa has faced widespread hunger for decades. Yet surging fuel prices in 2008, higher demand for food due to rising incomes, the diversion of food crops to biofuel production, and extended droughts in some regions combined to create the crisis we now face. But there is another, more fundamental cause: the long-term neglect of African agriculture, both nationally and internationally. In part because of the success of the Green Revolution in Asia, the portion of OECD Official Development Assistance for agriculture has declined from 16 percent in 1980 to less than 3 percent in 2008. The financial taps for sustaining agricultural research and development have been running dry.
Soil is one of the most overlooked ingredients in farming and yet it exists right beneath farmers’ feet. Healthy, fertile soils are an imperative starting point for agro-based development. But Africa’s soils are among the most degraded in the world. And this degradation continues as a result of deforestation, overgrazing of grasslands, continuous deep ploughing and inappropriate use that leads to the “mining” and depletion of soil nutrients.
Yet agriculture does not have to degrade soils. Good agriculture can, and should, restore nutrients, conserve water and prevent soil erosion. In this book, AGRA demonstrates its commitment to improving soil health by managing the nexus between soil and agriculture, creating solutions and moving beyond demonstrations to showcase success stories that can be scaled up. This book will deepen the debate on alleviating hunger and poverty across Africa. The focus is on the ground below our feet – which, after all, is the most important ingredient in agriculture.
Many soils in Africa are inherently infertile. Others have been depleted by decades of misuse: growing the same crops year after year, ploughing that exposes the soil to erosion, and cultivation practices that do not return organic matter to the soil. The results are devastating: declining crop yields, severe erosion, and widespread poverty. Many smallholders harvest only 1 tonne of grain per hectare, when the potential can be up to five tonnes.
Changing farming practices is vital to restore the soil’s fertility and to boost yields. That means rotating crops with nitrogen-fixing legumes, reducing or eliminating ploughing, and applying organic and inorganic fertilizers. But farmers cannot get the fertilizers they need, when they need it, at a price they can afford. Input dealers are few and far between in rural areas. The fertilizer has to be brought inland from the port, resulting in high transport costs. It often arrives too late to be of use. Some fertilizer on sale is inappropriately formulated, substandard or adulterated.
Africa’s soils are anything but uniform: they vary widely in their chemical, physical and biological characteristics, as well as in their history and current use. Blanket fertilizer recommendations are inappropriate: one soil may be acidic and need liming, while another nearby may be deficient in phosphorus. At the same time, soils have been depleted by continuous cropping and poor management. Erosion and the nutrient depletion are the rule.
Africa lacks the soil professionals and institutions needed to overcome these problems. It needs a critical mass of skilled specialists who understand Africa’s soils and are skilled in integrated soil fertility management. They will require the right equipment and institutional setting to do the research and analysis needed to understand, map, diagnose and improve the soils.
This policy brief draws on the experience of AGRA’s Soil Health Programme, which aims to increase income among African smallholder farmers, improve food security and reduce poverty by promoting integrated soil fertility management practices.
After nearly seven years with AGRA, the time has come for me to step down as Board Chair, effective the end of 2013. AGRA is now a very well established and widely recognized organization, and I want to devote more time and energy to the work of my foundation.
It pleases me greatly that the Board has selected Strive Masiyiwa, Founder and Chairman of the global telecommunications succeed me. Strive is one of our founding Board Members, has long served as Chair of the AGRA Finance Committee, and was appointed as Vice-Chair beginning year 2012.
Back in 2006, when AGRA was just getting started, our top priority was strengthening Africa’s seed systems; we saw this as the place to start in transforming African agriculture. But we also knew that a much more comprehensive approach was needed – one that addresses the many interrelated nchallenges that smallholder producers face.
New public/private partnerships focused on scaling up what works are now being formed all along the continent’s food value chains. We are witnessing a faster pace of public and private investments in agriculture, in part because of improving national policies and regulatory measures. These include significant investments by AGRA and its partners in large breadbasket areas in Ghana, Mali, Mozambique and Tanzania, as well as in several important agricultural growth corridors.
We are encouraged, as well, by the significant promises of support made by a number of donor country governments, international agricultural development organizations, and
emerging market and private sector entities, even in the face of continuing fiscal uncertainties caused by the recent global financial crisis.