Agriculture Is Essential for Solving Food Shortages, but Programs Remain Underfunded

July 10, 2013 by

IRIN News reports that agriculture is underfunded by west African governments and international donors, even though it is a primary tool for fighting chronic food shortages in low-income countries.  From IRIN News:

DAKAR, 5 July 2013 (IRIN) – Boosting agricultural productivity in the Sahel region is crucial to reduce chronic food insecurity, improve families’ nutrition, promote economic growth and help build people’s resilience, say experts, but governments still under-fund the sector, as do international donors who favour short-term fixes.

While there has been a renewed interest in investing in agriculture over the past five years, partly spurred by a drive towards more self-sufficiency given rising food prices (which spiked in 2008 and remained high), the sector is still under-served.

In 2009 the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) renewed the 2003 Maputo pledge to commit at least 10 percent of their national budgets to agriculture. But as the accord approaches its 10-year anniversary later this month, only 10 of the 54 African Union countries have met this goal.

The article goes on to quote a CRS staffer:

“In most countries in West Africa, the majority of the population lives in rural areas, where agriculture is the main provider of food and income,” said NGO Catholic Relief Services’ (CRS) regional technical adviser for agriculture Mireille Totobesola Barbier. “But production assets and financial access constraints, limited knowledge of improved production techniques and marketing skills, all impede growth [in the sector],” she said.

Read the full article on IRIN News.

Home page photo courtesy of Nupur Dasgupta, Creative Commons License

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