Theme publications: Agriculture and commodities
Monitoring Regional Integration Yearbook 2019/20: Agriculture and food security in Africa
If there is one thing which the current Covid-19 pandemic has done, it is to highlight the issue of food insecurity on the African continent and illustrate the interdependence of food (in)security on food production systems (agricultural production and the environment within which it is produced) and access to food (trade, tariff and non-tariff barriers, prices and market conditions).
The pandemic and measures taken to curtail its spread have compounded food insecurity on the African continent. Food insecurity challenges were already evident due to previous and ongoing extreme climatic conditions (floods and droughts in southern Africa), pests (locusts in east Africa), civil unrest, slow economic growth and high levels of unemployment and poverty.
Lockdown regulations across the world have led to a decrease in employment, levels of disposable income and export-earnings and an increase in food waste, food price increases and trade distortions leading to a decrease in access to food, increasing food insecurity. Africa’s projected population increase for the next three decades will compound the continent’s food insecurity.
Given the current state of the food production system, the question is how will it be possible to improve physical and economic access to sufficient food, while also ensuring the sustainability of Africa’s food and agricultural systems? If these systems remain stagnant in a changing world, persistent food insecurity is highly likely. Efficiency and sustainable food production can be improved through the uptake of new technologies and production methods. Addressing fragmented agricultural markets through regional integration efforts (reducing high agriculture and food tariffs and non-tariff barriers to trade and improving cross-border trade) can enable Africa to feed its growing population. Sustainable production and food systems that are more productive and less invasive on the natural environment are important to improve access of food across the continent.
This book covers various topics related to agriculture and food security challenges faced by African countries. Africa’s population has been increasing and is estimated to reach 1.2 billion by 2050. With the population increase there have been significant changes in the pattern of consumption, but undernourishment in Africa is still prevalent. To improve food security and alleviate malnutrition requires an increase in access to food. More food production will require increased land and other agricultural input use, or increasing productivity or greater imports. However, the supply of land and agricultural inputs is finite. In the long-term, regional integration efforts and technology investments can make the most practical contributions to alleviate food security concerns. Under the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), reducing tariffs and non-tariff barriers to intra-Africa food trade, trade facilitation measures and the promotion of investment in agricultural development, innovation and technology will increase access to food. Technology, including changes in agricultural management practices, irrigation technologies, alternative crop breeding strategies, drones and satellites can increase the productivity of existing resources by increasing yields and feeding the population in a sustainable manner.
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Africa’s Production and Trade: Agriculture and minerals
Africa as a continent has extensive potential, not only to feed itself and alleviate hunger and food insecurity, but also to be an important exporter to global food markets. Agriculture forms a significant portion of the economies of all African countries, and as a sector it can contribute to crucial continental priorities such as alleviating poverty and hunger, boosting intra-African trade and investments and job creation.
However, few appreciate just how low the productivity is in the agricultural sector in most of the countries across Sub-Sahara Africa. Equally worrying is that this situation has not improved in many countries over the last 50 or so years, and indeed for several countries the situation is getting worse. This has major implications for industrial development across the continent, as Africa has not been able to duplicate the Asian growth model of transferring resources out of agriculture and placing them into export-oriented manufacturing. When read in conjunction with other measures it becomes apparent that a modern agricultural sector is generally not in place across the continent, and this similarly places restrictions on promoting an export-oriented agricultural sector. That Africa is a poor continent where subsistence agriculture is widespread is well known, and this is confirmed in this collection of studies.
The collection of chapters in this book present the profile and performance of agricultural production and trade in most of the major African countries over recent years. The book is intended to be an ‘umbrella’ – to be used as a platform to enable a more comprehensive country-by-country analysis to be undertaken, but it also contributes to a better understanding of the profiles.
Readers are encouraged to quote and reproduce this material for educational, non-profit purposes, provided the source is acknowledged. All views and opinions expressed remain solely those of the author and do not purport to reflect the views of tralac.
African production and exports of grapes and grape products in perspective
This trade brief examines the African production and export of grapes and grape products – namely fresh grapes, dried grapes, grape juice, wine, and fortified wines. In tonnage, China is the leading global producer while South Africa is the leading African producer, ranking 11th in the world. The only other African countries of significance are those north African countries bordering the Mediterranean.
The pattern of African grape product exports varies from the international profile – which has seen a dramatic rise in countries such as China and India in recent years – in that wine as a percentage of the total has declined from 62% in the first few years of this century to be marginally under half in the last four years. Fresh grapes have supplanted wine as the main export.
African grape product exports have represented between 3.3% to 3.9% of the global total this century, with South Africa completely dominating these exports. The EU is the destination of most of these grape product exports, but its relative importance is declining.
Readers are encouraged to quote and reproduce this material for educational, non-profit purposes, provided the source is acknowledged. All views and opinions expressed remain solely those of the author and do not purport to reflect the views of