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Gates and Rockefeller Foundations Set their Sights on African Agriculture
September 24, 2013Article by Ray Withers
The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, funded by the Gates and Rockefeller Foundations, has released the much-anticipated 2013 Africa Agriculture Status Report. The extensive document is a must for anyone thinking of investing in agribusiness in Africa, providing deep insights into the progress of African agriculture and how some of the challenges are being addressed.
In Depth Analysis
The report, which took over 18 months to produce due to the level of detail it contains, has resulted in an accessible, reliable resource for all those interested in the status and trends of agriculture in Africa. It is quickly making a name for itself as the most exhaustive collection of analysis on staple crop production and distribution in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Learning the Lessons
The report identifies the increased priority that African countries are giving to agricultural development. This can be seen in action in Senegal, where the government is implementing measures to reduce the West African country’s reliance on imported food by 50%. The result has been a rising interest in farming for domestic production within Senegal. The initiative is certainly one that is overdue: agriculture makes up only 15.3% of Senegal’s GDP according to Index Mundi, compared with around 32% of that of the Sub-Saharan African countries covered by the Africa Agriculture Status Report.
One of the key challenges with African agricultural production, according to the report, is the need to enhance productivity. Given that around 65% of Africa’s labour force is employed in agriculture – rising to 77.5% in Senegal – the proportion of the countries’ GDP arising from this activity should be much higher than it currently is. Inroads are already being made, with new technology, the sharing of expert techniques, increased use of fertilizer and access to locally viable, high quality and affordable seed combining to reverse the declining trend of food production in Africa.
For those monitoring the African agricultural situation, the present time offers some exciting opportunities. Investment in a country such as Senegal provides not only strong financial returns for the investors, but greater food security for the country in which they are investing. Programmes such as our structured agricultural investment also offer further social benefits, including job creation, restoration of school buildings, funding of medical staff, construction of community spaces and provision of sporting facilities for local children. It’s a situation that benefits all those involved and one that no investor will want to miss at this critical time in Africa’s agricultural development.