Long-term challenges to food security and rural livelihoods in Sub-Saharan Africa


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A total of 180 million food-insecure people live in Sub-Saharan
Africa, over 21 per cent of the African population. These are among
the world’s most vulnerable people, poorly equipped to respond
to the threat of climate change, demographic stresses, or spikes
in global food prices. This briefing examines how improvements
in agriculture might help to achieve greater food security and
recommends ways to achieve this.

Link: http://digital.agripolicyoutreach.org/54549/LONG-TERM-CHALLENGES-TO-FOOD-SECURITY-AND-RURAL-LIVELIHOOD-IN-SUB-SAHARAN-AFRICA/Policy-Brief

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Long-term challenges to food security and rural livelihoods in Sub-Saharan Africa

  1. 1. Briefing Paper Number 2 | 2012 GDN Agriculture Policy Series Long-term challenges Chris Ackello-Ogutu Victor Okoruwa to food security Girish Nath Bahal and rural livelihoods in Sub-Saharan Africa A total of 180 million food-insecure people live in Sub-Saharan Four women leave a food Africa, over 21 per cent of the African population. These are among distribution center carrying sacks of maize meal on their heads. the world’s most vulnerable people, poorly equipped to respond Turkana District has been worst to the threat of climate change, demographic stresses, or spikes affected in Kenya’s most serious in global food prices. This briefing examines how improvements drought for 60 years. svenn torfinn | panos pictures in agriculture might help to achieve greater food security and recommends ways to achieve this. This briefing paper is one of the Key messages 10-part Global Development Network (GDN) Agriculture Policy Improvements in agriculture could be Strengthen safety nets, improve health p Series for its project, ‘Supporting a way out of food insecurity for Africa if and education, build assets and support Policy Research to Inform Agricultural Policy in Sub-Saharan the right policies are pursued, the necessary livelihoods for small-scale as well as Africa and South Asia’. It is based investment is prioritized and countries larger-scale producers to participate on a longer synthesis paper, collaborate and share knowledge with equally in national and global markets. Long-term challenges to food security and rural livelihoods in each other. Policies are needed that: Support people to adapt to the impact p Sub-Saharan Africa, which draws Raise agricultural productivity to meet of climate change whether they live on extensive published and p unpublished research. The full Sub-Saharan Africa’s own food needs, in rural or urban areas. paper can be downloaded at: develop specialist niche products www.agripolicyoutreach.org Taking strategic decisions now and become a competitive player in will be of value to policymakers, It to manage future challenges and make the global market. experts and civil society working the most of emerging opportunities to improve agriculture in Spur innovation in response to climate p has become imperative. Sub-Saharan Africa. change, population growth and new This project is supported by the market opportunities, with increased Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. investment in agricultural research and development, multiplication of new crop and livestock genetics and dissemination of techniques to use soil, water, labor and land more effectively and sustainably. Briefing Paper Number 2 Long-term challenges to food security and rural livelihoods in Sub-Saharan Africa 1
  2. 2. Overview Experts predict that, under a business-as-usual scenario, by 2050 there will be 42 million malnourished children under five years old in Sub-Saharan Africa, forcing many to rely on food aid. Pictured is a box of high-energy biscuits donated by the World Food Programme (WFP) in Sudan. svenn torfinn | panos pictures Up until early 2000, the agriculture sector Despite these positive trends and the in Sub-Saharan Africa went through policy region’s agro-diversity and potential for and budgetary neglect that led to growth increased food production, Sub-Saharan stagnation but this has now changed: Africa still faces daunting long-term agricultural GDP in Sub-Saharan Africa as challenges to food security and rural a whole grew by more than 3.5 per cent livelihoods. The region is uncompetitive in 2008, surpassing the population growth in global agricultural commodity markets rate, and grain production growth rates and many countries are net food importers, have been kept above 3 per cent. making them vulnerable to volatile prices. Poor basic infrastructure in many countries cuts off small-scale farmers from markets Background to the research and opportunities. An estimated 40 per cent of people in Sub-Saharan Africa still The long-term challenges to food security and rural livelihoods live below the poverty line, the majority of in Sub-Saharan Africa are examined by presenting a critical review them living in remote rural areas. Experts of literature on two distinct but related issues: predict that, under a business-as-usual p The nature and pattern of investment in Sub-Saharan African scenario, by 2050 there will be 42 million agriculture with analysis of the present situation and prospects malnourished children under five years for improving its performance in future. old in Sub-Saharan Africa; if climate change p Sources of future stress to food security in the region, dwelling is taken into account, then an additional largely on climatic and demographic changes as well as assessing the 10 million children will be malnourished. opportunities and challenges posed by trends in global food prices. Behind these challenges are opportunities. The briefing does not focus on strategies for achieving food security Africa’s urban populations and incomes and rural livelihoods in Sub-Saharan Africa but instead emphasizes are growing and with that will come the crucial need for agricultural development as a basis for achieving greater demand for marketed food. broad-based economic growth that will in turn lead to poverty Foreign investment and international reduction and sustainable food security. The briefing synthesizes the trade is growing, and farmers’ investments views and recommendations of policymakers, researchers and key in their own small-scale operations will market players that were involved in the review exercise. increase smallholders’ capacity to respond to market needs, increase yields and make the most of rising commodity prices, allowing countries to reduce dependence on food imports through import substitution policies. South–South collaboration has the potential to transfer skills, share good practice and expertise (especially in seed multiplication, agronomy and irrigation) and strengthen agricultural research knowledge. 2 Briefing Paper Number 2 Long-term challenges to food security and rural livelihoods in Sub-Saharan Africa
  3. 3. Making policy in the round A bit of background The World Food Summit in 1996, followed by the Millennium Development In Sub-Saharan Africa: Goals in 2000, set a principal target of Only 5 per cent of the cropped area is halving the proportion of people in the irrigated, compared to 14 per cent in world suffering from hunger by 2015. Latin America and 37 per cent in Asia In 2011, this goal was reached by three (Ringler et al, 2010); the sector is African countries. Getting others to join therefore highly prone to weather- them is a major challenge for regional related risks. leaders and their development partners. The agriculture sector accounts for: African governments have turned p 20 per cent of the region’s GDP towards the agriculture sector as an engine of poverty reduction and p 15 per cent of exports economic growth. Policymaking in p 60 per cent of employment this area, however, must be seen (World Bank, 2009) in the round. Complementary policies The 2003 Maputo Declaration commits to support development in health, signatories to allocate at least 10 per education, infrastructure, new cent of national budgets to agricultural technology, access to markets and development in order for the sector to empowerment of rural communities grow by at least 6 per cent annually. are essential, with the necessary support for implementation. With systemic institutional weakness in many Food consumption Sub-Saharan African countries, ensuring projections for Africa lagging behind the rest the year 2030 – kcal consistent pursuit of high-quality of the world per capita per day programs is another major challenge. While globally in the last 40 years there has 4000 been a steady increase in food consumption in terms of kcal per capita per day of 3500 dietary energy, in Sub-Saharan Africa dietary energy consumption stagnated 3000 during the long period of policy neglect. Intake of dietary fats also stagnated, 2500 and per capita consumption of livestock products and fruit and vegetables remains 2000 far below recommended levels. Past neglect of agriculture has left 1500 Sub-Saharan Africa performing poorly Developed in terms of agricultural productivity. 1000 East Asia The region has fallen behind other world South Asia regions in terms of percentage of irrigated 500 Sub-Saharan Africa arable land, value added per worker, fertilizer use and productivity growth 0 in crops and livestock activity. There has 1964/66 1974/76 1984/86 1997/99 2015 2030 been an overall decrease in average food production per person since 1970 and Source: FAO/WHO (2003) production is characterized by underuse of improved seed varieties, poor access to credit, high post-harvest losses and low technical efficiency, even among large-scale producers. The result is a loss of competitiveness and a rise in imports, even for commodities where one would expect Africa to have a comparative advantage. Briefing Paper Number 2 Long-term challenges to food security and rural livelihoods in Sub-Saharan Africa 3
  4. 4. The challenges in more detail Policy developments since 2000 The African Union’s New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) has produced a framework for change called the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP), which is a blueprint for investments in the agriculture sector. Its aim – to increase the investment in agriculture in each country to 10 per cent of the budget – had been realized by just over one third (36 per cent) of African countries in 2008. A complementary Framework for African Agricultural Productivity (FAAP) encourages innovation, a more coordinated funding approach by external donors, and responding to stakeholder rather than donor priorities to ensure better Zambia grain store: agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa is growing harmonized activities at country, program Situation changing but challenges and continues to receive political and project level. Together, the two attention but the challenges persist frameworks have elicited pledges and to achieving food security and sustainable rural livelihoods persist. The situation is changing, however. seed money amounting to USD 60 million global development network Following the signing of the Maputo in the form of a multi-donor trust fund. Declaration in 2003 and the food crisis in CAADP and FAAP have also provided 2007–08, there is a renewed commitment strategies to revitalize, reform and to agricultural development that is being expand Africa’s research and development boosted by an enabling policy environment, capacity, encouraging a shift from an advances in democracy and governance, exclusive technology-based approach to and a stronger civil society. innovations that engage public, private Regional integration is opening up and civil society stakeholders. Crucially, markets, and rising per capita incomes they support governments’ designs augur well for demand, particularly for agricultural programs that guarantee for horticulture and livestock products. broad-based, pro-poor growth and an There are good prospects for donor improvement in food security. funds targeting investments in agriculture. And through South–South cooperation food production and employment stand to gain directly, along with capacity building and transfer of skills to the sector. Agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa is growing and continues to receive political attention but the challenges to achieving food security and sustainable rural livelihoods persist. The region is particularly vulnerable to climate change and global market shocks. There are policy concerns about the implications of demographic changes, gender inequality and rural–urban migration for food production, as well as access to 48-year-old Danie Nanyako works in his field food, especially by poor rural households. in Mlaviwa village in Malawi’s Phalombe district preparing his fields for the next rains. As the majority of crops are rain-fed, the region is particularly vulnerable to climate change. svenn torfinn | panos pictures 4 Briefing Paper Number 2 Long-term challenges to food security and rural livelihoods in Sub-Saharan Africa
  5. 5. Investment and funding Global warming and climate change Public expenditure particularly focuses Global temperatures are expected to rise by 2 degrees on agricultural research and development, centigrade from preindustrial levels by 2050. This will supporting 75 per cent of capacity have an adverse effect on agricultural production, in 2000. food prices, health and wellbeing. Yields of rice, wheat and maize, for example, are expected to decline The private sector has perceived by about 15 per cent, 35 per cent and 9 per cent agriculture as an investment opportunity respectively, on average, by 2050. in recent years even though farm production remains dominated by With crop yields succumbing to water and heat stress, self-employed farm households, limiting food prices take on an extra significance. Volatile prices sales and marketing activity. It has made will impose huge financial burdens on the economies the most of natural resource availability, of Sub-Saharan Africa, condemning poor farmers but its contribution to agricultural to a constant state of underdevelopment. Without research is still relatively small, accounting alternative livelihood strategies, price volatility leads for only 2 per cent of total investment to income volatility, inadequate access to credit, a shift in research. towards low-risk production technologies and an inability to respond opportunistically. Donor support to agricultural development has been increasing since Climate change will cause cereal consumption around 2001, driven largely by concerns to decrease from 117kg/year in 2000 to 89kg/year about rising international commodity in 2050. This will not be outweighed by an expected prices, recognition by Sub-Saharan small increase in meat consumption, and with African governments of the important declining calorie availability it is predicted that by role of agricultural growth, and a much 2050 there will be 52 million malnourished children improved business environment, although in Sub-Saharan Africa. the rate of increase has been slow. Adapting to climate change will be costly: predicted Some donor funding emanates from costs in Sub-Saharan Africa as a percentage of GDP South–South official development are extremely large in comparison to any other global assistance, notably from Brazil, China region, mainly because GDP levels are comparatively and India. China has committed funding low. Agriculture sector adaptation costs in the to train African agricultural scientists region account for 40 per cent of the total, principally and establish agricultural technology linked to constructing more rural roads. If agricultural demonstration centers, while Brazil productivity could be increased, the region would is pursuing research and technology be less vulnerable and better equipped to meet future transfer links. Part of the South–South Food consumption climate change challenges. projections for cooperation involves land acquisitions the year 2030 – kcal that continue to generate heated per capita per day debate. Although there are investment- related merits for such acquisitions, 2000 2050 – No CC 2050 – No CC CSIRO – CC NCAR – CC there are concerns about lack (million tons) (million tons) (% change) (% change) (% change) of transparency in their contractual arrangements and the impact on land Rice 7.5 18.3 145.6 –14.5 –15.2 that is communally owned. Wheat 4.5 11.4 153.3 –33.5 –35.8 Maize 37.1 53.9 45.3 –9.6 –7.1 Millet 13.1 48.1 267.2 –6.9 –7.6 Sorghum 19.0 60.1 216.3 –2.3 –3.0 Source: Nelson et al (2009) Note: 2050 – No CC (% change) means per cent change between production in 2000 and 2050 with no climate change. CSIRO – CC (% change) and NCAR – CC (% change) indicate the additional change in production due to climate change under the two different models: CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) and NCAR (National Center for Atmospheric Research). Briefing Paper Number 2 Long-term challenges to food security and rural livelihoods in Sub-Saharan Africa 5
  6. 6. Women selling grain to people  with a small or irregular income, who cannot afford to buy in bulk but purchase small amounts when they need it at a market in Mokko. Many experts believe that food prices will remain high until investment raises productivity on the world’s limited farmland. jenny matthews | panos pictures Demographic changes Likewise, policies to cope with a mass exodus of young people from rural areas The changes in Sub-Saharan Africa’s are required. Many young people feel that demographics (see box) have implications opportunities in agriculture are blocked for sustaining food security. by the controlling hands of the older There will be shrinkage in the agricultural p generation, declining land area, worsening labor force. climate, unreliable markets and lack Those left behind will be older, less p of investment. This outmigration from the productive and more risk averse to new sector will lead to impoverishment unless technological innovations. it is matched by rapid innovation and There will be a rise in female-headed p market development, not only in agriculture households, often poorer and more but also in non-farm activity. vulnerable to external shocks. Global food price trends Dependency ratios are likely to rise, leading p to increasing costs of education and The Food and Agricultural Organization healthcare at a time when agricultural (FAO) food price index reached an productivity is stagnating. all-time high in February 2011, and many experts believe that prices will remain Research by Jayne et al (2002) indicates that high until and unless sharply increased Sub-Saharan Africa the ratio of land under crop cultivation to public investment raises productivity population changes agricultural population is declining in Africa. on the world’s limited farmland. Energy Masters (2010) shows how the rate of and fertilizer prices are also expected 2005 770 million people decline will slow but not stop for several to increase and remain high. 2050 1.5–2 billion people decades, accumulating demand for (projected) increased yields and sustainable land Urban dwellers and poor rural households management practices. Some households are hardest hit by price rises, especially Population growth rates for in net food-importing countries without will intensify production by using fertilizers, urban centers in Sub-Saharan alternative coping strategies. After the conservation agriculture and integrated Africa will be three times the 2007–08 price spikes the FAO estimated crop–livestock operations, but the payoff growth rate for rural areas in that the number of undernourished to additional inputs depends on the the next 20 to 25 years. people increased by 8 per cent in Africa. availability of appropriate seed varieties The absolute number of rural as well as access to markets. Those who Price increases expose many vulnerable people is expected to grow, cannot achieve sustainable intensification people to hunger and food insecurity, with the upward trend will see their incomes decrease as labor but in the right context they can spur public continuing well past 2030. productivity falls. investment and open new opportunities As women assume major responsibilities for African farmers, providing a chance for agricultural production following male to reconquer markets nationally and migration to urban areas, they expose regionally. For this to become a reality they themselves to the impact of climate change will need supportive trade policies, access and unstable food prices. Gender-nuanced to markets and investment in infrastructure. policies, support and coping strategies need to be developed for times of crisis. 6 Briefing Paper Number 2 Long-term challenges to food security and rural livelihoods in Sub-Saharan Africa
  7. 7. Recommendations Taking advantage of p Using index insurance as a response p agro-climatic diversity to climate change Sub-Saharan Africa has a wide diversity Index insurance is a way of sharing of agro-climatic conditions which make a given risk among the insured population. it possible to grow a variety of products It can help farmers to get access to loans for both domestic and foreign markets. and encourage them to invest in increasing It needs foreign direct investment to productivity because it removes the develop this production, balancing foreign worry about being able to repay a loan purchase of land with transparent practice in the event of an extreme weather to include smallholders and civil society shock. Government policies can support in the process. pilot schemes, product promotion and marketing, contract design and sales Increasing use of natural resources p skills building, and legal and regulatory Current projections from the International regimes to facilitate scale-up. Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) show that dependence on food imports Managing the impact of food p will increase. Sub-Saharan Africa should price instability be moving towards being a net exporter Targeted assistance, safety nets and of commodities such as rice, maize, entitlement programs, such as conditional soybeans, sugar and palm oil, to avoid cash transfers, vouchers for food and becoming overdependent on imports. farm inputs, and employment guarantees, can protect the assets and human capital Adding value and seeking new markets p of the most vulnerable. These programs Sub-Saharan Africa needs the right respond quickly to local conditions, regulatory and legal regime, supply of ensuring that past investments are not specialized information and knowledge, destroyed during crises. good infrastructure and access to finance Longer-term strategies must focus on to enable producers in the region to increased productivity achieved through invest in non-traditional, niche, fresh larger investment in research, adapting and processed products for export. crops and livestock to changing conditions, Building human resource capacity p extension work and infrastructure, and Agriculture research and development greater use of fertilizer and irrigation is lacking specialists. Governments towards sustainable intensification, and donor organizations must increase in order to meet the needs of Africa’s their investment in agricultural higher rapidly growing population while education to provide more postgraduate enhancing the continent’s biodiversity places, curriculum development and natural resources. and scholarships. Improving trade policies p p Promoting smallholder participation The Doha round of trade talks must in agricultural markets be completed to create a well-regulated Policies should tackle poor food trading system, and at the regional distribution networks, reliance on rain-fed level, intra-regional barriers to trade production, weak information systems must be removed. Regional bodies can and scarce access to credit. The private contribute to sharing market information sector can be encouraged to work with and intelligence. A buffer against both large- and small-scale producers – food price spikes could be created by the latter organized into larger associations establishing a virtual food reserve to keep to take advantage of new markets, better prices closer to a long-term average price. information, technology and finance.Briefing Paper Number 2 Long-term challenges to food security and rural livelihoods in Sub-Saharan Africa 7
  8. 8. Key references The full paper Long term challenges P Abbott and A Borot de Battisti (2011) G C Nelson, M Rosegrant, J Koo, to food security and rural livelihoods in ‘ ecent global food price shocks: R R Robertson, T Sulser, T Zhu, S Msangi, Sub-Saharan Africa is available for download at Causes, consequences and lessons C Ringler, A Palazzo, M Batka, www.agripolicyoutreach.org for African governments and donors’, D M Magalhaes (2009) It was written by: Journal of African Economies, Climate change impact on agriculture Prof. Chris Ackello-Ogutu vol 20 (S1), ppi12–i62 and costs of adaptation, IFPRI Food Policy University of Nairobi, Kenya C Ackello-Ogutu (2011) Report, Washington DC: International Food Policy Research Institute Prof. Victor Okoruwa ‘ anaging food security implications M University of Ibadan, Nigeria of food price shocks in Africa’, OECD/FAO (2011) Girish Nath Bahal Journal of African Economies, vol 20, OECD/FAO Agricultural Outlook University of Cambridge, UK ppi100–i141 2011–2020, Paris and Rome and reviewed by G D Anderson and J Erbach (2009) B Omilola, M Yade, J Karugia and Prof. William A. Masters Urbanization & Environment: P Chilonda (2010) Tufts University, USA Opportunities for Refocusing USAID Monitoring and Assessing Targets of Assistance in Sub-Saharan Africa, final the CAADP and the First MDG in Africa, Project Steering Committee report prepared for USAID Africa Bureau ReSAKSS Working Paper no 31, Senior Advisors Office of Sustainable Development Washington DC: International Food Policy Research Institute Prof. Per Pinstrup-Andersen N Beintema and G Stads (2011) Cornell University, USA African agricultural R&D in the new A Quisumbing, R Meinzen-Dick and Prof. T. S. Jayne millennium: Progress for some, challenges L Bassett (2008) Michigan State University, USA for many, IFPRI Food Policy Report, Helping women respond to the global Washington DC: International Food Policy food price crisis, IFPRI Policy Brief no 7, Prof. William A. Masters Research Institute Washington DC: International Food Tufts University, USA Policy Research Institute Prof. Alexandros Sarris EACC – Economics of Adaptation University of Athens, Greece to Climate Change (2009) C Ringler, T Zhu, X Cai, J Koo and The costs to developing countries D Wang (2010) Professor David Zilberman of adapting to climate change: New Climate change impacts on food University of California, Berkeley, USA methods and estimates, Washington DC: security in Sub-Saharan Africa: Insights Project Management Team World Bank from comprehensive climate change scenarios, IFPRI Discussion Paper Principal Advisor ECA (2009) Prof. Douglas Gollin Shaping climate-resilient development: no 1042, Washington DC: International Food Policy Research Institute Williams College, USA a framework for decision-making; Project Director A report of the economics of climate C Tacoli (2004) Dr George Mavrotas adaptation working group, Climate Works Rural–urban linkages and pro-poor Chief Economist, GDN Foundation, Global Environment Facility, agricultural growth: An overview, European Commission Prepared for OECD DAC POVNET Deputy Project Director Agricultural and Pro-Poor Growth Tuhin Sen FAO/WHO (2003) Lead Strategist, GDN Diet, nutrition and the prevention Task Team Helsinki Workshop, 17–18 June 2004 tsen@gdn.int of chronic diseases, Report of a joint Project Consultant WHO/FAO expert consultation, United Nations (2008) Nupur Suri WHO Technical Report Series, no 916, Population projections, revision Geneva: World Health Organization (http://esa.un.org/unpd/wpp/index.htm) Policy Outreach Analyst Vinaina Suri FAO (2007) USAID (2009) The state of food and agriculture 2007, USAID response to global food crises, you wish to reproduce or build upon this work, If Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization www.usaid.gov/our_work/ please contact Global Development Network (GDN). of the United Nations humanitarian_assistance/foodcrisis © Global Development Network FAO/HLEF (2009) World Bank (2007) All photographs © Panos Pictures, panos.co.uk High-Level Expert Forum – ‘The special World Development Report 2008: except one photograph on page 4 challenge for sub-Saharan Africa, Agriculture for Development, © Global Development Network. How to feed the world in 2050’, Rome, Washington DC: World Bank 12–13 October 2009 Designed and produced for GDN by Panos London, World Bank (2009) panos.org.uk T S Jayne, I Minde and G Argwings-Kodhek Agribusiness and Innovation (eds) (2002) Systems in Africa: Agriculture and All rights reserved. Perspectives on agricultural Rural Development (eds Kurt Larsen, Further information transformation: A view from Africa, Ronald Kim and Florian Theus), New York: Nova Science Washington DC: International Bank more information on the ‘Supporting For for Reconstruction and Development/ Policy Research to Inform Agricultural Policy in William A Masters (2010) Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia’ project visit: ‘ frica’s turnaround: From crisis to A World Bank www.agripolicyoutreach.org opportunity in African agriculture’, World Bank (2011) forthcoming as Chapter 11 in David R Lee Developing Competitive Agribusiness Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Muna B Ndulo (eds) (2011) Food and in Africa: Constraints, Opportunities Financial Crises: Impacts on Sub-Saharan and Policy Priorities, draft paper, Africa, Wallingford, UK: CAB International Washington DC: World Bank ew Delhi | Cairo | Washington DC N www.gdn.int 8 Briefing Paper Number 2 Long-term challenges to food security and rural livelihoods in Sub-Saharan Africa