Are African Agricultural Policies To Blame For Continent’s Food Shortage?

Are African Agricultural Policies To Blame For Continent’s Food Shortage?

Poorly developed agricultural policies by many African governments could be the cause of the continent’s perennial food shortage and poverty over the years, a new study published by World Development has said.

The study showed that many agricultural programs in the region are leaving out the majority poor subsistence farmers and only targeting large-scale agri-businesses, some funded by global financial institutions.

“The policies appear to be contributing to increased landlessness, poverty, food insecurity and inequality,” they said in a paper titled ‘Green Revolution in sub-Saharan Africa.’

Over 80 percent of the population in sub-Saharan Africa lives in the rural areas and largely depend on small-scale farming for their survival and income.

Neil Dawson, a senior research associate in the University’s School of International Development, told rfi that a study he conducted in Rwanda showed while government agricultural policies were important, poorly developed program could end up hurting the poor people it seeks to life out of poverty.

“These policies have major implications for smallholder farmers across Africa. They have the potential to benefit the farmers of course, but the results of our study also show that there’s also the potential for negative implications as well,” Dawson said in a radio interview with rfi.

Rwanda, a tiny East African Nation, launched a Land Policy and Crop Intensification Programme nearly a decade ago to help improve land productivity by encouraging farmers to specialize and use modern methods of crop cultivation.

The study cited fertilizer-on-credit program that Rwanda and many other African nations have introduced to their small-scale farmers without checking if borrowers have the ability to repay after harvesting or even have an insurance plan in case of adversities such as failed rains or diseases.

“It appears from our study that the logic which defines Green Revolution policies as strategies to combat poverty and hunger may be flawed,” Dawson told Daily Nation.