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Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Africa can feed itself by unblocking regional food trade

A new World Bank report says that Africa’s farmers can potentially grow enough food to feed the continent and avert future food crises if countries remove cross-border restrictions on the food trade within the region. According to the Bank, the continent would also generate an extra US$20 billion in yearly earnings if African leaders can agree to dismantle trade barriers that blunt more regional dynamism.  The report was released on the eve of an African Union ministerial summit in Addis Ababa on agriculture and trade.
According to the new report―Africa Can Help Feed Africa: Removing barriers to regional trade in food staples ― rapid urbanisation will challenge the ability of farmers to ship their cereals and other foods to consumers when the nearest trade market is just across a national border. Countries south of the Sahara, for example, could significantly boost their food trade over the next several years to manage the deadly impact of worsening drought, rising food prices, rapid population growth, and volatile weather patterns.  
The new report suggests that if the continent’s leaders can embrace more dynamic inter-regional trade, Africa’s farmers, the majority of whom are women, could potentially meet the continent’s rising demand and benefit from a major growth opportunity. It would also create more jobs in services such as distribution, while reducing poverty and cutting back on expensive food imports. Africa’s production of staple foods is worth at least US$50 billion (EUR 38.8 billion) a year.

Source: World Bank