Within the next three decades, food needs in Africa will triple. During the same period, per capita arable land is expected to decline to less than half of the current levels. In these conditions, it is undeniable that the future improvement of African food self-sufficiency and food security situation depends critically on the sustainable growth in agricultural food production.

In order to feed a population which is growing at a rate of 3 per cent per year, a minimum target growth of 5 per cent per year must be achieved during the next 15 to 25 years. As mentioned earlier, most policies needed to give an impetus to agricultural food production have been laid down in the past pro-nouncements. Africa's first priority lies in the need to revisit these pronouncements and translate them into impact-driven action, the various important prescriptions that were recommended. These priorities, most of which are drawn from these pronouncements, are framed at national, subregional, regional and interna-tional levels.

A. At national level

(a) General agricultural development

Successful agricultural food production and food security could be achieved through:

(a) According a special attention to input use and service delivery;

(b) Assessing the relevance of existing research systems in developing technologies that the African agriculture sector needs;

(c) Restoring, protecting and developing arable land and rendering it more productive;

(d) Accounting for the deterioration of natural resources and the environment;

(e) Promoting agriculture mechanization;

(f) Accessing agricultural education and training in view to making sure that they respond to the needs of African agriculture; and

(g) Promoting technology acquisition and development, particularly biotechnology now recog-nized as a key factor that can revolutionize agriculture and food production in Africa.

(b) Development of sectors in support of agriculture

The success in Africa's effort in achieving the stated objectives for food security achievement will depend on the parallel development of agro-industries, appropriate physical and institutional infrastructure, agricultural capacity building and improved macroeconomic management.

(i) Agro-industries

If agriculture grows at its target level, and the surplus is not absorbed by other productive activities, farm prices will be depressed and the initial growth will not be sustainable. The overall economy must grow at such a rate that it can utilize the surplus of production. This requires other sectors to grow, in particular, agro-industries sector.

Agro-industry in Africa accounts for over 60 per cent of the manufacturing value added of the region, but a relatively small amount of agricultural commodities is industrially processed. Most of the food stuffs (grain, tubers and oilseeds) are processed at home while processing of export commodities such as fruit, coffee, cocoa, rubber, cotton, etc., are limited both in terms of quantity and the stage of processing. Processing of agricultural commodities, especially those which are seasonal and perishable will increase their availability, reduce food import, thereby improving the declining trend in self-sufficiency as well as increas-ing better market opportunities and provide stimulus to increase food production.

On the basis of the above advantages, several resolutions of the United Nations General assembly have laid special emphasis on the processing of raw materials in countries of origin. Nevertheless, as of 1992, only few African agricultural commodities such as cotton (52 per cent), oilseeds (40 per cent),fish (20 per cent), fruits and vegetables (15 per cent) were processed into the final stage. Certain crops, namely sorghum, millet, cassava and other starchy roots and tubers, fruits, and milk undergo very little industrial processing.

African countries, individually and as a group need to take immediate measures in order to accelerate the processing of agricultural raw materials. But the different national governments must play a great role in industrial promotion, particularly in small-scale industries of which those related to animal feed deserve a special attention. This role requires the creation by the governments of a minimal set of infrastructures and facilities for the benefit of small-scale entrepreneurs. These facilities should include, inter alia, agro-industrial estates with public facilities (roads, water, electricity), financial schemes for the purchase of equip-ment, working capital.

(ii) Appropriate physical and institutional infrastructure

The role of the public sector in economic life also needs to be viewed from a pragmatic standpoint with a serious consideration to widely differing national circumstances, experiences and capabilities. Closely related to this issue is the question of the most appropriate role of the state in a market- oriented economy with appropriate institutions, appropriate infrastructure conducive to a thriving agriculture and its sustain-ability. Emphasis should be put on:

(a) Building appropriate rural transport systems that are less capital intensive;

(b) Building appropriate water and soil management; and

(c) Improving local ownership and control over rural institutions by the people.

(iii) Agricultural capacity building, research and extension

A major missing ingredient that has been responsible for Africa's poor economic performance is the lack of adequate indigenous capacity in several critical areas of human, institutional and infrastructural development. Capacity building is an enormous and complex undertaking, which will need to be sustained over several decades and with significant financial outlay. Capacity building is probably the only solid plat-form from which Africa can be launched on to the path of sustained recovery, accelerated growth, environ-mentally sustainable development, equitable distribution of socio-economic opportunities and steady allevia-tion of poverty. Development is not solely a matter of economics, pulling a few economic levers here and there. Pointed attention must also be paid to institution building, popular participation, village associations and groups, and an end to circumscribed freedoms. We have now come to appreciate that participation by citizens in all of the institutions of a society~-~political as well as economic~- is a prerequisite for develop-ment.

A strong non-farm sector that supports the development of agriculture - roads, transport, water, credit, rural electrification, marketing structures, etc., - must be coupled with human capacities (policy makers, researchers, extension agents and farmers), which are also needed in the specific case of food security and self-sufficiency. Capacity building in terms of human resources involves education and training, managerial competence and participatory capabilities.

The need to strengthen training skills and analytical capacity within national governments to assess ex-ante the likely effects of different policy measures, but also for dealing with competing political pressures from consumers and producers must be emphasized. The dual role of food prices - determining food consumption levels (consumers, especially among the poor), and the adequacy of food supplies through incentives to farmers - raises an obvious dilemma for food policy analysts. The inverse impact of food prices on producers and consumers creates significant dilemma which, if managed, while trying to achieve all the above-mentioned food policy objectives, is the essence of a successful food policy. That success requires an understanding of the political economy of food prices and tools for managing a country's border price. Macroeconomic forces outside the agricultural sector are too pervasive and too powerful, hence, when they work at cross purposes to micro sectoral strategies, they create an unfavourable macroeconomic environment and can, therefore, erode even the best laid down plans. Likewise, policy actions in other sectors of the economy that have greater impact on the agricultural sector than policy intervention in agricul-ture must also be addressed.

One such sector is related to technological development through research. It is accepted throughout the world that a thriving agricultural sector can be maintained only if technology and research keep track on a continuous basis. The greatest factor behind Africa's tale of death, starvation and malnutrition is the region's "under developed" agriculture. Technological change and research mean not just higher agricultural productivity; they will impact the entire system of technical, socio-economic, institutional and political arrangements. There is, therefore, little question that policies for increasing economic growth and equity, especially increased agricultural productivity, must provide the bedrock for future development. Increased yields will call for an urgent need for higher investment in agricultural research and technology to ensure enhancement and stabilization of yields. Increased yields will also mean rational utilization of natural resources a sine qua non for sustainability in food production. Investment aimed at improving the capa- bilities of the poor, by putting most of Africa's eggs in the basket of small-holders will lead to the achieve-ment of short-term goals in tandem with long-term development. This is what has happened to such coun-tries as different as China and Indonesia, Malaysia, India and Thailand.

At the subregional and regional levels, the lack of broadly accepted strategic plans to guide the colla-borative efforts has limited their effectiveness and, when viewed from a regional perspective, in conformity with the Abuja Treaty establishing the African Economic Community, duplication of effort at the national level has resulted in less than efficient use of scarce resources. The financial and institutional sustainability of the national, subregional and regional efforts have been constrained by the lack of national determination and funding mechanisms to facilitate national ownership and financing of regional activities. The limited involvement of national system leadership in decision making has exacerbated this situation.

The following key priorities must be emphasized:

(a) Development of agricultural research and extension through the creation of network of agronomic research stations and extension for the design and diffusion of appropriate technologies;

(b) Establishment of assistance programmes for small farmers, especially women food producers, rural and youth;

(c) Radical change of the education systems at all levels to ensure that the skills, knowledge and attitudes that are relevant to Africa's food sector development needs are generated;

(d) Efficient utilization of manpower resources, including measures to reverse the brain-drain of African food experts and guarantee human rights; and

(e) Intensified efforts to promote mass literacy and farmer learning programmes.

(iv) Macroeconomic management

Macroeconomic policies have an important influence on the development of the food and agricultural sector and food security, both in the short and longer term, through their effects on prices, incomes and employment. These non-agricultural and economy-wide policies such as industrial protection and fiscal policies are highly crucial to food security; but so are food- and agriculture-related policies because of how they affect the speed of urbanization (through rural out-migration) and the provision of food itself. The direct and indirect protection and taxation of economic sectors determine their relative competitiveness, which, in turn, determines resource flows in the economy. The choice of development strategy is highly relevant for the long-run effects of macroeconomic policies on economic growth and alleviation of poverty.

The macroeconomic policies should therefore be designed to strengthen rather than counteract the incentives for agricultural development provided by means of sectoral policies. In this regard, structural adjustment policies for correcting macroeconomic disequilibria would need to put greater emphasis on growth-, income- and employment-generating aspects by removing constraints and bottle- necks to quality growth and equity. The design, the sequencing and the implementation of such policies should take into account social costs, in particular adverse effects on nutrition, health and education. These costs must be minimized in order to safeguard the human resources potential on which development depends.

The key instruments for achieving macroeconomic stability will thus include

(a) Continued privatization with recognition of the proper role of the State;

(b) Liberalization of trade and support for regional integration;

(c) Good governance and leadership with decentralized and democratic institutions;

(d) Proper management of equilibrium real exchange rates.

(c) Environmental conservation strategies

As mentioned above, reducing poverty, eliminating food insecurity while preserving the environment is a real challenge for Africa. Given the set targets, any increase in food production will require some increase in area planted, thus clearing forest. To limit the extent of large area expansions require intensifica-tion of agriculture through the use of mineral and organic fertilizers. Of course, there are costs associated with the use of fertilizers; but it will be important for African policy makers to take concerted actions in order to:

(a) Arrest forest destruction;
(b) Reduce transhumant livestock;

(c) Eliminate bush;

(d) Increase measures to stop soil erosion;

(e) Develop techniques, resource management capacities, policies and technologies that are acceptable to farmers in their environment, etc.

As stated by FAO, one of the most serious problems facing the African countries in the medium and long term is that of land degradation by drought, desertification and man-induced actions. The food security, the economic well-being and the quality of life of African people depend on the continent's croplands, pastures, and forests, all of which are threatened by land degradation and lack of appropriate policy towards water harvesting.

Some specific actions have been taken so far and need to be strengthened. Among them are FAO schemes: To assist African countries in the prevention of and to combat land degradation in the region, FAO has designed the International Scheme for the Conservation and Rehabilitation of African Lands (ISCRAL) which was approved by its Regional Conference for Africa, held in Marrakech, Morocco in 1990. In addition, through its major functions of assessment and monitoring of the natural resources, policy and planning assistance, development of technologies, capacity building and field demonstration in the agriculture, livestock, forestry, fisheries and rural development and structural transformation sectors, FAO is contributing actively to the control of desertification, mitigation of the effects of drought and integrated dry-land development in the affected countries of Africa, especially in African low-income food-deficit coun-tries (LIFDCs).

(d) Other policy reforms

The political and humanitarian problems facing the African continent and which are attracting so much public attention, are manifestation of a more deep-rooted structural crisis which requires concerted action by all partners in order to address its causes at the most fundamental level, namely reducing and eliminating poverty through empowering the rural people, specifically women farmers, decentralization of the economic decision-making process, development and transformation of the rural sector, reduction of the income differential between the cities and the rural areas, etc. It is only within such framework that humani-tarian assistance must be designed to ensure an effective continuum from relief to rehabilitation, reconstruc-tion and longer-term development with transformation. Other policy reforms must also emphasize:

(i) Changing food consumption patterns

The reliance on imported cereals mostly rice and wheat to feed the urban population has been facili- tated by inappropriate domestic price and exchange rate policies that have made such import of food rela-tively cheap, compared to traditional food such as millet, sorghum, plantains, roots and tubers; and this has in turn negatively affected food growth performance. These trends will continue as the projection figures in chapter II indicate. In general terms, the pressure for consumption change can be addressed by three different policy responses. These are:

(a) Constraining consumption of the non traditional commodities (wheat, barley, etc.) through taxation and import restrictions;

(b) Promoting export of crops and commodities to pay for rising import bills;

(c) Promoting utilization of traditional staples (for example, by improving processing of sorghum, millet, yam, cassava) and agro-processing.

It should, however, be underlined that four fifths of the world's population still makes do with 20 per cent of the natural resources, while the other one fifth uses 80 per cent. Still, most environmental concerns expressed in the past have been about rapid population growth in the South. Only recently have the patterns of production and consumption in the North been questioned. Beyond the environmental concerns, consumption-based life styles raise serious value and equity issues.

(ii) Control of population growth rate

There is considerable debate about whether or not the rate of population growth in Africa is one of the fundamental causes of Africa's food crisis. Population is also an asset but rapid population growth can aggravate food security situation by straining heavily available per caput food supply, while causing damage to the environment. Thus, governments must work on population issues in socio- economic development pro-grammes and policies such as appropriate land utilization and settlement patterns, family planning, etc.

(iii) Participation of people in the development of food security programmes

Special attention should be devoted to the role played by human resources. Policies will need to be pursued to ensure the effective development and utilization of human resources in the field of agriculture and food sector through:

(a) Ensuring the effective participation of people in all dimensions of food sector development;

(b) Developing indigenous entrepreneurship capacities, both private and public.

In food and agricultural sector, the focus of attention must be the peasant farmer with special reference to female farmers who dominate food production in most countries.

(iv) Measures for political stability and peace

Wars between countries have also aggravated the food security situation. Physical infrastructure has been destroyed, resources have been diverted to buy weapons; therefore, many farmers have left their farms and food production has dropped. While agricultural food development should be viewed as a long-term process, many African Governments have short-term objectives because they are mainly concerned with short-term measures that would ensure support from the most politically influential groups, i.e., the urban population. Scarce resources should be used to meet basic productive requirements for the rural popula-tions. For this objective to be achieved, measures for peace and political stability are needed.

B. At subregional level

In order to deal with the divergence and duplications among African countries, the following actions are necessary, bearing in mind the common problems faced by the groups of countries concerned in their efforts to improve their food security situation.

The areas most seriously affected by drought and desertification will have less opportunities in rais-ing domestic resources for implementing the priorities for improving the food security programme. For the Sahelian countries, the road to self-sufficiency in food production and food security is paved with particular difficulties, especially as they are not in the position to mobilize from domestic resources to implement the priority programme. These countries have mostly to tackle the environmental, development and human capacities problems. Special programmes for afforestation as well as for the development and utilization of water resources will have to be put in place. Special investments should be made to develop research of drought-resistant crop varieties.

With regard to land-locked countries, investment should be made to develop sub-tropical agricultural research in crop diversification, high-yield seeds and pest control. They also need to conduct intensive research in methods to combat animal and livestock diseases. At the same time, the problem of storage, transport and transit also requires large investments.

The African island countries which are virtually isolated from the mainland both in terms of trans- port and communication as well as trade need to develop special programmes for the development of food trade and transport linkages.

For the North African countries, emphasis should be on programmes aimed at reducing drought, improving water systems for irrigation, reducing soil erosion and desertification.

C. At regional level

Strengthening the institutional framework through proper social and economic management of the priority programme will only materialize if African countries urgently strengthen their social and economic institutions at all levels. African national and subregional institutions must be made more responsive to the challenges of food security through the improvement of their management systems.

Efforts should be made to implement existing regional integration agreements, especially the Abuja Treaty establishing the African Economic Community, and improve market intelligence in view of consolidating African cooperation. Governments should increase intra- and interregional trade through better response to changes in demand and consumption preferences.

D. At the international level

One matter of concern to African countries in the 1990s and beyond is the outcome of the Uruguay Round negotiations.

In theory, reforms to reduce agricultural protection would reduce world market distortions and improve market access. They could also lead to increases in world prices of previously subsidized agricul-tural products, including cereals, meat and dairy products, and sugar. These changes would benefit develop-ing and transition economies which are important exporters of these products. Some studies cited by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) The Impact of Uruguay Round on Developing and Transition Economies Development Committee (DC/94-18), 6 September 1994.
have concluded that prices of some previously sub-sidized products could rise by 4 to 10 per cent in total when the full effects of the Uruguay Round are felt. However, this could be an overestimate because these calculations were based on the text of the Draft Act of the Uruguay Round, or other more general assumptions, which imply a higher degree of liberalization in industrial countries than was finally agreed.

In theory again, the hope for growth of world income should itself boost the demand for agricultural commodities while the reduction of agricultural output in developed countries as a whole would stimulate agricultural activity in the developing countries. Given that agriculture is the major source of employment and income in the developing countries, these developments would be expected to improve incomes of rural households which are often the most insecure in terms of food.

A number of developing countries which are net importers of food, including some African and Mediterranean countries, have expressed concern about possible higher food prices. According to the World Bank and the IMF, provided that higher prices are passed on to farmers, any such effect will be mitigated by the stimulus to agricultural production, both in the net importers' domestic agricultural sectors and in developing countries which are net exporters of previously protected commodities. Nevertheless, if world prices of food do rise overall, individual countries that remain net importers of commercial food will face increased costs. For some developing countries, such terms of trade losses are, however, most likely to be offset by gains in other areas of the Uruguay Round such as from increased market access for manufactured goods, including textiles and clothing. It should be noted that the higher food prices, to the extent that they occur as a result of the Uruguay Round, will be distributed over a six-year implementation period allowing time for adjustment. In fact, since the Round legitimizes subsidies in industrialized countries, developing countries, and especially African countries, could introduce appropriate temporary protective policies for their agricultural sectors and gradually eliminate such protection over the time period considered by indus- trial countries in eliminating their subsidy policy or over the ten years the developing countries have to complete their reduction commitments related to the Agreement on Agriculture.

According to the World Bank and the IMF, The Impact of Uruguay Round on Developing and Transition Economies Development Committee (DC/94-18), 6 September 1994.
the major features of recent trade policy developments in developing and transition economies have been these countries' unilateral liberalization of their trade systems, and the extent to which they have taken other steps to improve their ability to compete in interna-tional markets and to integrate themselves more fully in the multilateral trading system. The successful conclusion of the Uruguay Round will support these measures through increased market access, the integra-tion of new and sensitive areas into the multilateral system, and strengthened rules and institutions.

Existing estimates of the impact of the Uruguay Round on developing countries point to substantial potential benefits, particularly to those countries which make the macroeconomic and structural policy changes that would position them to exploit the new opportunities.

However, as also stated by FAO, it should be noted that the Agreement on Agriculture, although rather comprehensive and going well beyond tariffs and border measures, still represents only a partial liberalization agreement. The quantitative cuts in support to agriculture are relatively small and spread over a number of years. Overall, a large degree of distortion in the world market of agricultural commodities will still remain even after the complete implementation of the reduction commitments.

In the view of FAO, the effects of the above on the stability of international prices are unclear. On the one hand, with the removal of non-tariff barriers to trade, all countries would absorb to a greater degree than before shocks in the world market, thus dampening the effects of market instability. On the other hand, the general move towards liberalization and a reduced role of the government in price support activities could lead to a fall in government stockholding of agricultural commodities, especially in the developed countries. The reduction may not be large, but there is a question as to whether the private sector would step in to fill the gap. If not, as seems likely, then global food stocks are likely to be reduced. Fortunately, however, food security stocks have been excluded in the Final Act from reduction targets. It is to be hoped that coun-tries would take advantage of this exemption and build up adequate food security reserves, but developing countries, especially in Africa, may not be able to make large efforts on this score as holding stocks is an expensive undertaking. "Uruguay Round Agreement: A Preliminary Assessment". FAO Commodities and Trade Division. March 1994.

Aside from the quantitative effects of the Uruguay Round agreement, what is probably of greater significance, particularly in the long run, is the new shape of agricultural policies.

The way in which agricultural policy is undertaken is likely to change radically in the future. First and foremost, this concerns the list of policies that are discouraged and those that are acceptable. The former includes guaranteed, target, indicative or procurement prices which are maintained at levels above those on the world market. The future is for targeted non-price decoupled forms of support (or transfers not linked to production). Next in terms of significance is the demise of most non-tariff barriers to trade and their conversion into tariffs (tariffication). This allows import prices to vary with variations in world prices and hence improves the quality of price signals faced by producers and consumers. Export subsidies are not acceptable but will be tolerated for the time being and disciplined. Overall, trade regimes in future should be much more transparent. "Uruguay Round Agreement: A Preliminary Assessment", op. cit.

The in-depth, commodity-by-commodity analysis that is presently under way with the knowledge of the contents of the schedules of commitments country-by-country and commodity-by-commodity would provide a more accurate possible quantitative impact of the Final Act. It should be noted that the impact on agriculture of the Uruguay Round Reform is not confined to the Agreement on Agriculture as the other changes ushered in by the Uruguay Round are likely to have certain macroeconomic effects with eventual impact on the demand for agricultural commodities. As already stated, the Agreement on Agriculture repre-sents only a partial liberalization and its implementation will be phased in over a period of six years for the industrialized countries and over 10 years for the developing countries. It follows that only part of the exist-ing distortion in world prices, will be removed as a result of the implementation of the Agreement.

However, despite the conceptual and modelling difficulties, and although the precise commodity- specific country offers are not included in the present analysis, some idea of the likely effects of the agree-ment can be inferred from attempts that have been made in the recent past to assess possible scenarios of a partial liberalization agreement. Although the particular policies simulated differ in various degrees from those in the Final Act, and the way they are modelled does not overcome the difficulties, the results of these attempts are the best approximations available at this stage for a first general assessment of the Uruguay Round Agreement. The results of five such studies are presented in table 1. "Uruguay Round Agreement: A Preliminary Assessment", FAO, op. cit.

Although estimates of the likely changes on the value of trade are only indicative, at best, certain patterns emerge which are worth highlighting: "Uruguay Round Agreement: A Preliminary Assessment". FAO Commodities and Trade Division. March 1994.
(see tables 2 and 3)

(a) Estimated changes in net export earnings of developing countries in both temperate and tropical products are relatively small (although larger for temperate zone products), particularly taking into consideration the length of the implementation period, which implies that annual changes will be marginal;

(b) Although not all developing countries would make net trade gains from liberalization of agri- cultural trade, for the majority of developing countries the gains outweigh the losses;

(c) In general, anticipated gains and losses are concentrated both by product and by geographical region, with high- to middle-income countries gaining more than the poorer countries;

(d) Expected losses of developing countries are largely concentrated in Africa whereas expected gains are concentrated in Latin America and Asia. Africa's losses are mainly due to the loss of preferential margins it enjoys in developed country markets under the General System of Preferences (GSP), the Lomé Convention and other trade arrangements. According to ECA, Africa's losses are estimated at $2.6 billion per year. All these potential losses, however, may be exactly what Africa needs to adopt action-oriented policies to transform its agriculture from its present state into market-oriented agriculture;

(e) Net trade gains to developing countries from agricultural trade liberalization are greater the more they engage themselves in the reform process by removing some of the direct and indirect policies which have discriminated against agriculture in the past;

(f) Overall, the implementation of the total Uruguay Round package ought to have positive effects on developing countries' export earnings, with most gains coming from the ending of restraints on textile and clothing exports under the Multi-Fibre Arrangement.

It should be emphasized that the implications for the developing countries of this new regime will have to be seen within the framework of structural adjustment programmes (SAPs) under way. In agricul-tural and food policy, there is already a general trend towards more precise targeting of policies to particular groups of beneficiaries. Whether these policy changes are motivated by the new Uruguay Round disciplines or by ongoing SAPs, both point in a rather similar direction, one where actions to influence prices are no longer the main instruments of agricultural policy. Whether, however, it will always be feasible for develop-ing countries to adopt non price-distorting policies is a matter that requires further analysis. "Uruguay Round Agreement: A Preliminary Assessment", op. cit.
(see table 4)

In fact, in addition to the special and differential provisions contained in the Agreement on Agricul-ture, there are special provisions for developing countries contained in the Decision on Measures Concerning the Possible Negative Effects of the Reform Programme on Least-Developed and Net Food Importing Coun-tries. The idea behind the Decision is that agricultural trade liberalization is likely to lead to higher world prices for food while a reduction in export subsidies will also raise the effective price paid by importers. There is also some concern that the volume of food aid, which historically has been closely linked to the level of surplus stocks, could be more limited in future as the surplus stocks are run down. The Decision recognizes these issues and provides for some redress, via food aid, technical assistance to raise agricultural productivity and possibly short-term assistance to help financing normal commercial imports.

Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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