To Create Food Security in Africa, Focus on the Value Chain

Over the past few months, there was a lot of discussion around the problem of food insecurity in the horn of Africa and why nothing was done to prevent the current food insecurity through appropriate agriculture development projects.

Questions That Arise
How can we create long-term food security in Sub-Saharan Africa? What important aspects in agriculture projects were missing in the previous decades to really give long-term dividends and impact the life of small farmers?

There are many facets to this issue, and many solutions. None are easy.

Meanwhile in Africa
In a recent article, C.M Dlamini the Swaziland’s Minister for Agriculture takes his country and the agriculture sector as an example of what can be done to create long-term change:

Swaziland, a country about the size of New Jersey located in Southern Africa, has not been immune to food insecurity. It is an economy with a large agricultural sector, and thus highly dependent upon both natural forces and human innovation to sustain and increase their income and wealth.

With the assistance of US and other investors, and well-developed trade links with South Africa and other neighboring countries, Swaziland has embarked on a systematic effort to add more value to their agricultural output through the development of additional manufacturing and service sectors.

The ministry believes this “value chain” approach holds much promise for the entire African continent, as well as agriculturally based economies in other areas of the world.

An example of a successful project is a commercial community garden initiative funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by International Relief & Development (IRD – http://www.ird.org/), a private global development organization. Working with Swaziland’s Ministry of Agriculture, National Agricultural Marketing Board, farming associations and other stakeholders, IRD has helped establish 39 commercial community gardens.   The produce grown and harvested in these gardens—in the US, they would be called small farms—is sold in local and foreign markets.  The key to the gardens’ success is data gathering and analysis that enables farmers to tailor output to specific markets.

It’s not enough to simply “grow enough food.”  The goal is to grow enough food and sell it in a way that increases the incomes of farmers and their communities.   This means understanding the varying levels of demand in local and foreign markets, learning about alternative methods to control pests and unwanted plants, establishing relationships with distributors, marketing firms, processors and other market participants.

To read more about this interesting point of view, go to:  http://www.newstimeafrica.com /archives/23849

~~Stay tuned for updates about the wonderful things happening around the world~~

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One response to “To Create Food Security in Africa, Focus on the Value Chain

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