Africa’s agriculture status report launched

The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) on Wednesday launched its inaugural report on the state of African agriculture in Maputo, Mozambique.

The Africa Agriculture Status Report takes an in-depth look at the staple crop value chain, from classroom to field to market, in 16 countries across the Continent.

The report which was obtained by the Ghana News Agency from Portland Communications, brings together data and analysis from more than 15 national and international organisations, including ministries of agriculture, the World Bank, the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.

It presents data in an accessible and consistent format, creating a benchmark to monitor the development of agriculture in Africa.

The inaugural Africa Agricultural Status Report focuses on staple crops, such as cereals and root-crops, produced in Africa.

The report revealed that while a number of countries were investing heavily in research and development and developing their agricultural sector, others were lagging behind, to the detriment of food security.

It said in terms of personnel engaged in agricultural research, Africa had the world’s lowest capacity with only 70 researchers per million inhabitants.

It noted that declining soil fertility threatened crop yields and agricultural development in a number of countries. “While the average price of fertiliser delivered to farms in the US was $226 per tonne, it is $414 per tonne in Zambia”, the report added.

It said outdated national and regional laws and regulations were restricting the development of Africa’s seed markets, adding that the average length of the seed release process was around three years in most sub-Saharan African countries.

“Low cost and subsidised food imports are weakening African agricultural markets, along with poor access to credit, trade restrictions and high transportation costs.

“Although agriculture represents as much as 40 per cent of gross domestic product in some African countries, only 0.25 per cent of bank lending goes to smallholder farmers”, the report noted.

It further observed that women, who represent the majority of Africa’s smallholder farmers, were heavily disadvantaged under current land rights systems. “This is reducing their ability to access credit, agricultural technologies and services,” it added.

The report said evidence showed that women in Africa were five times less likely than their male counterparts to own land.

At the launch of the report, Strive Masiyiwa, Vice Chair of the Board of AGRA, said: “If we are to succeed in bringing about a Green Revolution in Africa, we need to record and understand not only where we are making progress, but also where we are lagging behind.”

Jane Karuku, President of AGRA, said: “The Africa Agriculture Status Report is being published at a critical time for the Continent. Ten years on from the Maputo Declaration, we can recognise some significant progress, but we must also shine a light on areas where action and investment are urgently needed.”

David Ameyaw, Director of Strategy, Monitoring and Evaluation at AGRA and one of the report’s leading authors, said: “This report marks the beginning of an ambitious project to consolidate reliable and accessible data on African agriculture”. GNA

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