State Of African Agriculture Report Reflects Inequities, Knowledge Gaps

State Of African Agriculture Report Reflects Inequities, Knowledge Gaps

Although agriculture represents as much as 40 percent of gross domestic product in some African countries, only a quarter of 1 percent of bank lending goes to smallholder farmers, according to a report in AfriqueJet.

Women, who represent the majority of Africa’s smallholder farmers, are heavily disadvantaged under current land rights systems. This is reducing their ability to access credit, agricultural technology and services. Evidence shows that women in Africa are five times less likely than men to own land.

Africa has the world’s lowest proportion of personnel engaged in agricultural research, with 70 researchers per million inhabitants compared to the U.S. with 2,640 and Japan with 4,380.

These are just three of the findings released Wednesday in an inaugural report on the state of African agriculture by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) at forum in Maputo, Mozambique.

AGRA was founded in 2006 through a partnership between the Rockefeller and the Bill & Melinda Gates foundations. It seeks to achieve “breakthrough agricultural production” by helping smallholder farmers in Africa.

The inaugural Africa Agriculture Status Report looks in depth at the staple crop value chain from classroom to field to market in 16 African countries, using data and analysis from 15 national and international organisations including ministries of agriculture, the World Bank, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.

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It focuses on staple crops such as cereals and root-crops, of which around 75 percent are produced in Africa rather than imported, the report said.

Other findings in the report include the following:

– Declining soil fertility threatens crop yields and agricultural development in a number of countries. While the average price of fertilizer delivered to farms in the U.S. is $226 per ton, in Zambia, for example, it is $414 per ton.

– Outdated national and regional laws and regulations are restricting development of Africa’s seed markets. The average length of the seed release process is around three years in most sub-Saharan African countries.

– Cheap and subsidized food imports are weakening African agricultural markets, along with poor access to credit, trade restrictions and high transportation costs.

“This report marks the beginning of an ambitious project to consolidate reliable and accessible data on African agriculture,” said David Ameyaw, a lead author of the report and director of strategy, monitoring and evaluation at AGRA. “There are considerable gaps in our knowledge of the agricultural sector. Governments, national research institutes… private sector actors, need to collect and share data openly.”