What are the key African food policy developments in 2012?
The 2012 Global Food Policy Report, IFPRI’s flagship report, provides perspectives of the major policy developments that Africa undertook in 2012 to improve food security and resilience as well as recommendation on how Africa’s youth can make transformative impact on the economic development of the continent.
Building Resilience in Joint Efforts
Learned from the past lessons, West Africa made serious commitments to building the region’s resilience to crises. Under the Global Alliance for Resilience Initiative in the Sahel (AGIR) and a Food Crisis Prevention and Management Charter in West Africa that both adopted in 2012, a regional emergency food reserve of 0.4 million metric tons was established in West Africa. A resilience framework is developed to evaluate and monitor vulnerability indicators. Countries in the region have committed to more free regional trade in food products. And an intervention mechanism Food Crisis Prevention Network was revamped in 2012 to address the new challenges.
Other parts of Africa also made remarkable efforts. For example, the Global Alliance for Action for Drought Resilience and Growth was launched in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel in April 2012. Ethiopia established an Agricultural Transformation Agency; at the same time Nigeria established an Agricultural Transformation Agenda. Not to mention that thirty African countries and ECOWAS had signed a CAADP compact, twenty six of which have developed national agricultural and food security investment plans.
International development partners were not lagging behind either. The G8 launched the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in its 2012 summits. More than 45 private companies from Africa and the world have promised to invest over 3 billion US dollars in Ethiopia, Ghana and Tanzania, the first three countries covered under the Alliance. A total of 16 million US dollars had been awarded by G8 countries to 11 African countries in 2012 to fulfill their L’Aquila promises.
Africa should see results from all the progress. However, eliminating the chronic vulnerability of food security requires more long-term, sustainable policy actions. The 2011 ReSAKSS Report also shows that future agricultural growth will depend on technical changes and more investment in agricultural research and development, the 2012 Global Food Policy Report suggests that it is key to continue commitments to CAADP investment plan, encourage more open trade, and improve public expenditure management to improve the agricultural productivity.
Inclusion of the Youth
Looking at the global picture that draws high food prices and high demand for agricultural products globally and regionally, Africa, the fastest-growing continent in the world, is destined to take off on its own path. The farming sector provides Africa more potential to create jobs for its growing young workers and accelerate the economic growth than non-farming sectors such as manufacture or services could. Recognizing agriculture as the growth driver and job creator is not enough. So much more remains to be done, including making agriculture more profitable, providing access to financial services, improving security of land tenure, and educating its youth with advanced skills and knowledge. Only if African leaders tackle these challenges will they reach their full potential.