AGRA, NEPAD Agree To Partnership To Expand Food Security In Africa
The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) has entered into an “historic”Â partnership with the New Partnership for Africaâ€™s Development (NEPAD) “to work towards increasing food production and food security in Africa,” PEACE FM Online reports (11/9).
Through the new partnership, AGRA and NEPADÂ will come togetherÂ to work directly with governments and agriculture partnersÂ in anÂ “effort to increase the productivity of smallholder farmers growing Africaâ€™s staple food crops. They will focus particularly on plans to develop high potential breadbasket areas of African countries,” according to an AGRA press release (11/9). AGRA Chairman KofiÂ Annan,Â the former secretary-general of theÂ U.N., saidÂ the newÂ partnership “will enable African countries to close the gap between intention and action on behalf of smallholder farmers.”Â Â
“NEPAD has mobilised public support among African governments to prioritize and invest in agriculture. AGRA develops and disseminates the technologies farmers need; bolsters policy reform; builds markets and involves the private sector,” he added, afrol News reports. According to the publication, “NEPAD works closely with African governments to implement the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP),” whichÂ calls forÂ “African governments to allocate 10 percent of their national budgets to agriculture”Â toÂ reachÂ six percent annual agricultural growth.
Namanga Ngongi, president of AGRA, said the partnershipÂ “will accelerate CAADP’s implementation at the country level” (11/9). Ngongi saidÂ new investments in technology will help to makeÂ African smallholdingsÂ more productive, VOA News reports.Â “There are technologies on the shelf today that, if these were available to the majority of smallholder farmers, especially the women, they would be able to make a dramatic increase in their productivity,” he said (Hennessy, 11/9).
News Outlets Examine Agriculture, Hunger
In related news, several news outlets published articles about world hunger and agriculture ahead of the U.N.Â World Summit on Food Security, which willÂ take place in Rome from Nov. 16-18.
Reuters writes: “Everybody wants to end hunger, but just how to do so is a divisive question that pits environmentalists against anti-poverty campaigners, big business against consumers and rich countries against poor,” the news service writes. “One of the fiercest disputes” at next week’sÂ foodÂ summit, “will be over the relative importance of science versus social and economic reforms to empower small farmers to grow more with existing technology.”
The article includes information about natural farming, genetically modified organisms, the Green Revolution andÂ current food production challenges (Parsons et al., 11/9). Â
In an interview with Reuters, “FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf said more aid was needed to curb the rising number of hungry people in the world” and warned that conditions could give rise to another food crisis. “There is a lack of priority in fighting hunger and poverty at the highest political level, not only in developed countries but in developing countries,”Â he said (Flynn, 11/9).
The Financial Times reports that ahead of the conference, Paul Conway, head of food security initiatives at Cargill, believes that efforts to promote food self-sufficiency in response to the 2008 food crisis will fail and theÂ theory that countries “can be self-sufficient in every single food is a nonsense.” According to Conway, “Promoting a free and open trading system whereby countries can produce what they are best able … and surpluses can be traded across international boundaries is the right way to go. Not all countries can single-handedly be self-sufficient in all food commodities.” Conway said global food security would improve if countries reached a deal on the Doha trade round (Blas, 11/9).