Saturday, 27 October 2012

New World Bank Report Advises African Countries to Unlocking Regional Trade to Help Feed a Continent

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 Report Africa Can Help Feed Africa: Removing Barriers To Regional Trade In Food Staples Africa Has Enough Fertile Farm Land, Water, And Favorable Climates To Feed Itself, Yet It Is Forced To Import Ever-Larger Amounts Of Food From Outside The Region To Keep Up With Rising Demands From Families Across The Continent.

The Report Says The Rising Cost Of Importing Food, However, Has Focused Sharp Attention On The Effectiveness Of Current Agricultural Policies Across The Continent.

The World Bank Reports Has Noted That Africa’s Rapid Urbanization Increases The Need For The Continent To Feed Itself.

It Says As Drought, Poor Market Conditions, And Lack Of Access To Capital, Seeds And Fertilizer, Force More Africans To Leave Their Small Farms And Move Into Cities In Search Of Work, Countries Compensate For This Loss In Small-Scale Production And Increase In Urban Populations By Importing Larger Shipments Of Staple Foods From Outside The Continent.

The World Bank Says The Cost Is Huge Well Above $20 Billion Per Year And This Figure Is Projected To Double By 2020.

The Reports Says Estimates Show That 860 Million People Live In Sub-Saharan Africa, And The Population Is Rapidly Growing And Africa’s Demand For Food Staples Is Expected To Double By 2020, But African Farmers Have Not Been Able To Increase Productivity To Satisfy Rising Demands.

Head Of The World Bank’s Africa Trade Practice And Principal Author Of The Report, Paul Brenton, Says If Africa Is Really Going To Provide Poor People With Better Access To Food, And Help Poor Farmers Earn Higher Prices For Their Food Crops, Opening Up Cross-Border Trade Across The Region Is Essential.

Mr Brenton Says Trade Restrictions Such As Export And Import Bans, Variable Import Tariffs And Quotas, Restrictive Rules Of Origin And Price Controls, Prevent Consumers In One Area From Benefiting From Staple Foods And Other Agricultural Resources In Nearby Areas Must Be Removed.

He Says Small-Holder Farmers Who Sell Surplus Harvest Typically Receive Less Than 20 Percent Of The Market Price Of Their Products And The Rest Is Eaten Up By Transaction Costs Which In Turn Reduce Incentives To Farmers To Grow More Food For Market.

Mr Brenton Says This Predicament Undermines Private Sector Confidence To Invest In Food Staples, Shifting The Focus More Towards Cash Crop Production, With The Result That Locally-Grown Food Ends Up Being Significantly More Expensive Than Foreign Imports.

He Stated That As A Result, Governments And Policymakers Are Grappling With How Unstable Food Prices Affect Their Economic And Social Wellbeing, And Searching For Answers To Improve The Situation In A Continent Were More Than 70 Percent Of Africans Live In The Country Side And Derive Their Livelihood Directly From Agriculture.

Mr. Breton Says Food Staples Are Generally Transported In Bulk By Trucks, And The Cost Of Moving Goods By Road In Sub-Saharan Africa Is High And Transit Times Are Uncertain And Delays Exceptionally Long.

He Has Noted That There Are Still Key Gaps In Infrastructure And Logistics Between African Countries And One Of The More Obvious And Stubbornly Persistent Problems Is Road Blocks, Which Not Only Cause Delays But Make Trucks Carrying Food Staples An Easy Target For Bribes.

Mr. Brenton Says There Is The Problem Of Standards And Their Enforcement At The Border Because Standards Often Differ From Country To Country.

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