Stories tagged: market access

Measuring Market Access for Agricultural Products

A newly released study by the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) looks at the potential of establishing a “Composite Index of Market Access” (CIMA) to measure the changes in market access using a single, comprehensive, and operationally-friendly model.

The extent to which markets are open and transparent to trade is an important issue for farmers across the globe.  Farmers must weigh the costs and benefits of subsidies, export tariffs, and other barriers such as technical barriers, health and safety measures, and private voluntary standards which must be met to sell to certain buyers.

What this model attempts to achieve is to “shift the focus from the number and complexity” of measures being considered “to a uniform and comparable index so that negotiations may conclude more transparent and equitable trade agreements in the future.”

While still a conceptual discussion, the paper suggests that a limited test of the indiex on a few commodities could demonstrate whether the CIMA could become an effective tool for policy discussions, such as:

  • determining the current level of market access for negotiation purposes
  • identifying shifts in market access over time
  • targeting sub-issues which might remedy existing trade problems
  • estimating the impact of private standards on market access
  • empowering exporting farmers with useful information on which to base decisions

FANRPAN and Gates Foundation Announce 3-year Project for Rural African Women Farmers

The Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN), led by Farming First’s Dr. Lindiwe Sibanda, has announced a three-year pilot project to help women farmers in Southern Africa influence agricultural policy development.

The programme has been funded by a $900,000 grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and will be presented at the annual FANRPAN Regional Policy Dialogue and Annual General Meeting held in Maputo, Mozambique in September 2009.

The pilot projects will be based in Malawi and Mozambique and will help to amplify the voices of women farmers in policy decisions at the national and regional levels.  These projects will also then help women access the tools and technologies — such as better seeds, adequate fertilizer, extension services, and access to credit — that these realigned markets will provide.

FANRPAN’s involvement across 13 Southern African countries will help it to partner with other Gates Foundation grantees to create deeper linkages within the communities where their pilot projects will take place.  The lessons learned from these pilots will then be incorporated and extended into programmes for other Southern and East African countries.

“Silent Hunger Crisis”: FAO Estimates Over 1 Billion Hungry in the World

2626227998_f58850b534A recently published report by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has announced that the total population of those going hungry has surpassed the 1 billion person mark for the first time in history.

“A dangerous mix of the global economic slowdown combined with stubbornly high food prices in many countries has pushed some 100 million more people than last year into chronic hunger and poverty,” said Jacques Diouf, Director-General of the FAO. “The silent hunger crisis — affecting one sixth of all of humanity — poses a serious risk for world peace and security.”

The report argues that the rise in hunger levels is largely the result of the global economic recession.  Fewer remittances are being received and international trade and investment have slowed down, affecting local economies in the developing world.

Sub-Saharan Africa has the most dense pockets of hunger in the world.  Many of the countries in this region have hunger levels of over 35% of their populations.  Areas of south Asia — notably India — also have high levels of food poverty.

To address these issues, the FAO and other UN agencies have called for a reinvigorated investment in agriculture, particularly in the poorest and most vulnerable regions.  Of these affected areas, Jacques Diouf of the FAO said that they “must be given the development, economic and policy tools required to boost their agricultural production and productivity.”

Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), also added:

Many of the world’s poor and hungry are smallholder farmers in developing countries. Yet they have the potential not only to meet their own needs but to boost food security and catalyse broader economic growth. To unleash this potential and reduce the number of hungry people in the world, governments, supported by the international community, need to protect core investments in agriculture so that smallholder farmers have access not only to seeds and fertilisers but to tailored technologies, infrastructure, rural finance, and markets.

‘Put Farming First’, Urges IFAD President

KANAYO F.NWANZEKanayo Nwanze, the President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), has urged a meeting of African finance ministers to “nourish their agriculture sectors” if they hope to mitigate the impacts of a global economic downturn.

Nwanze said:

Resuming economic growth, resolving the food crisis and tackling the challenge of poverty must necessarily be based on creating a dynamic smallholder agriculture sector.  Investing in smallholder agriculture is the most sustainable safety net for societies.

40 per cent of the labour force in sub-Saharan Africa works in agriculture and tehy produce 30 per cent of the export earnings in the region.  Keeping these farmers afloat is vital for these countries to manage their way through an economic downturn.

To help with this, IFAD is working in several African countries to boost production (and meet the food needs of a growing population) through the supply of quality inputs, like seeds, fertilisers and other tools.

Promoting Agricultural Growth Corridors in Africa

Africa is the only region in the world where hunger is worsening and per capita food production has stagnated over the last three decades. All research has clearly pointed out the necessity to invest in infrastructure building to unleash Africa’s agricultural potential, as highlighted in Principle 3 of the Farming First plan.

Traditionally, the public sector was called upon for infrastructure development. The private sector can also have an important role to play, as shown by the example of the agricultural growth corridor concept promoted by Yara International SAS, a Norwegian fertilizer company with important operations in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Building on past initiatives promoting a more competitive agricultural sector through more efficient supply chains, the agricultural growth corridor aims at investing in communications routes with existing infrastructure to achieve economies of scale, developing clusters and strengthening input-output markets.

To date infrastructure development in Africa has not been particularly focused on the needs of promoting agricultural value chains. Most African countries have limited port capacity with small shipments that significantly raises the unit import costs of key inputs. There is a lack of larger warehouses at ports or in strategic inland locations to act as key distribution or collection hubs or to facilitate potential adoption of warehouse receipting measures. The limited number of trained rural retailers and limited access to appropriate rural credit compounds impedes farmers to get easy access to their inputs. In addition, the political did not exist to promote intra-regional agricultural trade and market development which combined with weak purchasing & selling power amongst the poor, as compared to commercial farmers, has contributed to a lack of competitiveness of local and regional agricultural markets and has continued the trend of internal consumptive markets, particularly in relation to core staples.

The Agricultural growth corridor initiative particularly focuses on the need to ensure that markets exist for increased output and that farmers have access through ICT to local, regional or or international market analysis.

Public – private partnerships and alliances are necessary to fast track development along a given corridor and at the same time helping to balance issues of scalability, knowledge transfer and market access particularly as they relate to small scale farmers and African entrepreneurs and investors. Government and business leaders will need to proactively work across borders to develop an on-going corridor management process. Public and private resources will need to be aligned to create a policy and investment climate that promotes the scope for such agriculture growth corridor initiatives.

The initial support for the concept of agricultural growth corridors has caused a core working group to be convened to discuss options for fast tracking.  Represented by a number of the organisations, it will draft an initial blueprint for action to be presented at the African World Economic Forum in June 2009.

Final Adopted Text from CSD-17 Published on the UN Website

An advanced, unedited text of the final recommendations of the UN Commission for Sustainable Development is now available on its website.

Gerda Verburg, Chairperson of the Commission and the Netherlands’ Minister of Agriculture, Nature, and Food Quality, said of the outcome:

Nothing less is needed than a revolution in ideas and a revolution in technologies, supported by a revolution in trade policies and market access and the financial means to implement.

The final plan stressed the central importance of farmers – particularly women farmers and rural communities – to deliver such a paradigmatic shift in the agricultural sector.

According to the final press release issued on the CSD-17  final text, This could be done by

employing science-based approaches and local indigenous knowledge; expanding investment incentives, in particular for small farmers; and encouraging and supporting safge integrated pest management.