Mo Ibrahim report illustrates importance of African agriculture

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation, established in 2006, encourages good governance and effective leadership in Africa. By providing a framework for governments and civil society to assess their own level of governance, it not only encourages debate on governance issues, but it promotes leadership development and capacity-building within the government. In addition, every year, they do a comprehensive examination of all African countries and rank them according to their governance quality.

Recently, the Ibrahim Foundation released a report called “African Agriculture: From Meeting Needs to Creating Wealth.” This report is bursting with charts, statistics and case studies that focus on different aspects of African agriculture such as food security, land rights, food price volatility and much more.

So, what did it find?

  • Out of 925 million undernourished people in the world, 240 million live in sub-Saharan Africa
  • Improving irrigation methods in Africa increase crop yield by 100 to 400 percent
  • The food crisis in 2008 has resulted in a seven-fold increase in commodity prices
  • Smallholder farmers contribute to more than 90 percent of Africa’s agricultural production
  • Women make up more than 50 percent of the agricultural labor force in sub-Saharan Africa
  • Post-harvest losses in sub-Saharan Africa could provide food re for at least 48 million people

For me, three things stand out in particular:

First, that agriculture represents 5 percent of Overseas Development Aid (ODA) from some of the richest economies.

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Source: OECD-DAC Creditor Reporting System
Considering that agriculture constitutes the main source of livelihood for 80 percent of the population in sub-Saharan Africa, the fact that ODA accounts for such a small portion of total ODA is appalling. For Africa, agriculture is the driver of economic growth and poverty reduction and ONE encourages increased funding allocated to agriculture.

Second, just how many commitments have been made to African culture, yet how little follow through there has been.

At the very end of the report, the Ibrahim Foundation included a comprehensive list of agricultural-related agreements that have been made since 2000, what area of agriculture they focus on, and who it was made by. It demonstrates just how many commitments have been made to African agricultural and stresses just how much more action needs to be taken.

And lastly, that a framework for developing land policy to increase land security was adopted by the African governments, yet much land insecurity exists.

In 2009, a Framework and Guidelines on Land Policy in Africa was launched by the African Union, the African Development Bank and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) that focuses on ensuring that land policy provides equal access to land and resources, securing land tenure for women. Despite this, more than 90 percent of land in Africa remains under informal tenure systems. Increased efforts in implementing this framework by creating a formal land registering system can help to reduce land insecurity, increase agricultural investment, and minimize land grabs.

Agriculture has been and continues to be paramount in increasing economic growth and reducing poverty in Africa. ONE knows it, the Ibrahim Foundation knows it — but do you?