Pre-conference workshop at the Annual German Agricultural Economics Conference (GEWISOLA) 2016.
The food trade balance has worsened in most African countries over the last decades (FAO 2012) and in particular basic food commodities such as cereals, dairy products, edible oils and fats as well as meat products are increasingly imported. With the African Union Malabo Declaration from June 2014, African countries committed to triple intra-African trade by the year 2025. If achieved, this may help to improve the food trade balance and thereby improve food security and contribute to the achievement of SDG 2 in Africa.
However, in most Sub-Saharan countries, local excess supply areas are not well connected with the mostly urban demand regions due to insufficient infrastructure, road harassment, and often excessive and cumbersome controls at border posts. It is often faster and cheaper to import from the global market than to import from the remote hinterland or a neighboring country. This highlights one of the main development problems with regard to agricultural food trade in Africa: the lack of competitiveness of African on-farm production and food value chains. A recent World Bank report from 2012 (“Africa can help feed Africa”) concluded that removing trade barriers to better link farmers to consumers and inputs can be a key element in improving the food balances.
Moreover, the food trade balance is not just a question of agricultural trade, but also a question of supportive national agricultural policies. A development-oriented agricultural policy agenda supports the ongoing transformation of rural areas, so that these areas can become a driving force for economic and social development in African countries (see e.g. GIZ/ODI “Agricultural Development Policy: A Contemporary Agenda). Modern instruments of agricultural food and trade policy give answers to the burning questions that arise in view of rural transformation: providing a conducive policy environment to rural areas with public goods that are known to reduce rural poverty and hunger, plus a conducive business environment that stimulates the competitiveness of agri-food value chains.
To support Africa to better feed Africa, a stronger consensus on agricultural food and trade policy for African countries is needed. It seems that regional integration processes can be the key to this development. But up to this point, there is no unanimous answer regarding sequence of actions, adverse effects, the role industrialized countries (e.g. Europe) may play, and how the accompanying political processes should be designed.
For GIZ, this question are of high relevance, as GIZ implements agricultural development and value chain projects across the African continent and advises agricultural policy makers at different levels and in more than 20 African countries. With this pre-conference workshop, we would like to stimulate the debate and engage with German academia on these questions.
Please find the full programme here.
ECDPM’s Francesco Rampa will speak about ‘The political economy around regional food market integration and policies in Africa’.