Africa's Food Crisis: Conditioning Trends and Global Development Policy

African countries continue to face deepening food crises which have been accentuated by the global food, energy and financial crises. This situation is part of a long term structural problem: decades of under-investments in agricultural sector and poor policies of support for smallholder farmers who form the bulk of the farming population. The inability of these farmers to achieve a supply response when commodity prices were high and market access was less of a problem suggests that there are multiple sets of binding constraints that continue to limit the potential of agricultural growth to reduce food security and poverty on the continent. What the continent needs is a smallholder-based green revolution that can help raise agricultural productivity and lift millions out of poverty. Many challenges face the achievement of the green revolution in Africa. This paper reviews some of the historical trends that have hampered the performance of the agriculture sector. In addition, it reviews the impacts of more recent trends including the global financial crisis, public sector investments, inequities in global agricultural development policies, rush for agricultural lands by foreign investors, domestic commercial financing markets, climate change and emerging carbon markets. The paper argues that while opportunities for accelerated growth exists for African agriculture, new sets of policy instruments will be needed to support smallholder farmers to access new agricultural technologies, finance, reduce impacts of climate change and adopt sustainable land use practices that can allow them to benefit from emerging global carbon markets.

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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2019-08-26

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