As demand for food grows, we need to ensure the way we produce it remains as environmentally sound as possible. Farmers can now be guided by technology, to use earth’s resources like land and water in the most efficient way. It can also help them apply vital inputs like crop protection and fertilizer in the right amounts. This is called precision agriculture, and here 10 ways Farming First supporters are putting it to good use. Continue reading
22nd February 2018
“Enabling Positive Outcomes for Nutrition in Africa”
**By registration only**
Please RSVP via email to ifpri-dakar[@]cgiar[dot]org or by phone: 338699800.
The event will focus on enabling positive outcomes for nutrition across Africa, drawing extensively from the findings of our report, Nourished: How Africa can Build a Future Free from Hunger and Malnutrition.
- Keynote (15mins) H.E. Dr Papa Abdoulaye Seck, Minister of Agriculture, Republic of Senegal **invited
- Moderated discussion (60mins)
- Dr Ousmane Badiane, Africa Director, IFPRI (chair) – Introduction
- Sir Gordon Conway, Professor for International Development, Imperial College London – The state of malnutrition in Africa
- Abdoulaye Ka, Director, Cellue de Lutte contre la Malnutrition (CLM), Senegal.
- Nachilala Nkombo, Country Director, WWF Zambia – Global and continental policy processes and institutional reforms
- Paul Ilona, Nigeria Country Manager, HarvestPlus – Getting nutritious crops to farmers and rural communities: experience from Nigeria
- Audience Q&A (30mins)
- Press conference & cocktail reception
As African heads of State gather in Addis Ababa this week to discuss winning the fight against corruption, Nachilala Nkombo, Country Director of WWF, Zambia and member of the Malabo Montpellier Panel outlines three steps to beat corruption in the agriculture sector – the lifeline for many of the continent’s most vulnerable people.
This week, at a meeting of the African Union, heads of state have an opportunity to make progress in the fight against corruption. Corruption cheats the continent’s people and governments out of approximately $50bn each year, money that could be spent on realising the African Union’s Agenda 2063 vision of an ‘integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa’. The agricultural sector is a key part of this puzzle and of the solution.
Corruption hinders the ability of a country to transform socially and economically, be governed democratically, and reduces the chances that its people will live in peace. Along with inequality, it forms part of a vicious cycle; as corruption grows so does unequal distribution of power and therefore unequal distribution of wealth. The agricultural sector has long been identified as fundamental to transforming livelihoods and opportunities on the African continent and has the potential to do a lot to address this imbalance.
Currently 80 percent of farmers in sub-Saharan Africa are smallholders, typically with less than two hectares of land. Poverty is pervasive amongst them, with millions living below the poverty line. Farmers have little power to fight corrupt institutions. However, transparent management of the agricultural sector that empowers farmers could be one of the best tools the continent has to fight poverty at scale.
A healthy and prosperous agricultural sector could be the engine for economic growth on the continent. The World Bank projects that agriculture and agribusiness in Africa have the potential to make up a $1 trillion industry by 2030, but this will only happen if embezzlement, fraud and bribery are addressed. How can we do this?
Promote transparent systems
Transparency is a potent weapon in fighting corruption. The public sector should prioritise efforts to create and enforce legal frameworks that promote transparency and root out corruption. It is often said, ‘it starts at the top’ and, if so, it must also be fought at the top. Independent and well-functioning media, independent of special interests, is one way to achieve transparency, as well as actively disclosing ownership structures of companies to regulators.
Last year saw the end of President Mugabe’s 30-year reign in Zimbabwe which bought hope to the continent, and South Africa, Ghana and Sierra Leone were among countries reported to be taking a stronger stance against corruption. But, an Afrobarometer survey found that in 23 out of 36 countries the majority view was that corruption had increased. For the agricultural sector, a lack of transparency can have negative effects on land tenure, credit availability, quality of supplies, water allocation, and the development of agribusinesses.
Harness the power of new technologies
Over four decades, the Nigerian Government spent $5bn dollars on farm input subsidies but only 11 percent of farmers received fertiliser, resulting in low yields and low profits. Middle-men siphoned large amounts of money out of the system. In 2012, when the then Minister of Agriculture Dr. Akinwumi Adesina discovered this problem, he introduced an Electric Wallet through which he could send farmers digital vouchers directly to their mobile phones to buy fertilisers and seeds.
Within two years the Electronic Wallet had reached more than 14 million Nigerian farmers and spread to poor regions in the North. The scheme served as a catalyst for private sector confidence and investment. This approach to better support farmers has since been adopted in many countries including my own, Zambia. With the boom in mobile use across Africa there are more and more opportunities to limit the stages money travels through to reach beneficiaries.
Support farmers’ institutions to operate effectively and hold Government to account
Many African countries have sound agricultural policies. It is in the implementation of these where corruption seeps in. Farmers that are organised into unions or institutions, and are armed with information, are better able to hold governments to account for poor service provision.
In a previous position, as Zambian Country Director for ActionAid Denmark, I saw first-hand the benefit of strengthening leadership and technical capacity of farmers’ institutions. In the Eastern, Luapula and Lusaka provinces of Zambia we supported farmers to organise their collective voice and equipped them to track agriculture budgets and services at the local level so they could demand improvements and accountability. Today, these district farmers’ organisations remain formidable local institutions.
For anti-corruption campaigns to be credible they need to be led by legitimate and independent bodies answerable to legislative institutions and not simply to the President or Prime Minister. Too often they are publicly seen as delivering no real accountability for citizens.
The summit this week is an opportunity for African leaders to turn this trend on its head. The African Union has a responsibility to set continental norms and uphold shared values. It has powerful instruments to fight corruption including a Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption, ratified by 38 countries. We eagerly anticipate the initiatives announced by this influential group, especially those that will improve the lives of Africa’s farmers.
In this guest post, Sheryl Hendriks, Director of the Institute for Food Nutrition and Well-being at the University of Pretoria, South Africa argues an unexpected but dangerous form of malnutrition is on the rise in Africa, and outlines recommendations from the Malabo Montepellier Panel on how to tackle it.
The Borlaug Dialogue, happening this week in Iowa, will convene global leaders, farmers, agribusiness and development experts to address the most critical issues facing global food security. When we think of food security and nutrition, especially in Africa, a key question that comes to mind is how countries can best tackle malnutrition?
When thinking of malnutrition we can be forgiven for conjuring a vision of listless, pot-bellied children with dull eyes and skinny limbs. This sadly remains a reality in many countries across the continent with a total of 14 million children wasted – too thin for their height. But there is another form of malnutrition that is spreading silently through Africa, and it is just as dangerous: obesity. Continue reading
5 September 2017
Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire
It is up to all of us to build on progress—quickly, efficiently, and at the speed and scale required to secure Africa’s rise through an agricultural transformation. Join the Malabo Montpellier Panel at this side event during the AGRF as it launches its report on the state of nutrition in Africa and highlights successful policy and program interventions across the continent. Read more >>