After attending the G8 summit in Italy earlier last week, President Obama immediately flew down to Ghana, in his first visit to sub-Saharan Africa since being elected President.
Obama’s trips to Italy and Ghana both served to demonstrate his public support for an increased focus on the needs of farmers, particularly those without sufficient access to the tools they need to farm efficiently and feed themselves.
In Italy, Obama said:
There is no reason why Africa cannot be self-sufficient when it comes to food. It has sufficient arable land. What’s lacking is the right seeds, the right irrigation, but also the kinds of institutional mechanisms that ensure that a farmer is going to be able to grow crops, get them to market, get a fair price.
In a recent Bloomberg article, Farming First’s Ajay Vashee, President of the International Federation of Agricultural Producers (IFAP), discussed the need for African farmers to have better access to the seeds and fertilizers they needed to increase their yields and improve their livelihoods as farmers.
Vashee particularly noted the success of Malawi’s farm input subsidy programme, which has been running for the past five years and which has served as a model for neighboring countries.
The Bloomberg article noted that Tanzania began a fertilizer-subsidy programme last December, that Kenya has announced a similar subsidy plan to boost yields, and that the Ugandan government had increased spending on agriculture by 47 per cent in its latest budget.
In preparation for his trip to Ghana, Obama discussed the role that governments should play in driving progress in African development goals, quoted in a recent Wall Street Journal article:
Countries that are governed well, that are stable, where the leadership recognizes that they are accountable to the people and that institutions are stronger than any one person have a track record of producing results for the people.
In May, Farming First interviewed the coordinator of Malawi’s farm subsidy programme and Principal Economist in the Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Idrissa Mwale. Watch the video here: