African countries cannot blindly adopt food policy initiatives: IFPRI

by Trust Matsilele 0

Agriculture industry concerns reflected in AFGRIs full year results Agriculture. PHOTO: Getty Images

This is according to a research by the International Food Policy Research Institute.
The research, which focused on Ghana says, Africa must instead develop new technologies to improve the output of tree and root crops that are abundant in the region and to reduce the need for manual labour.

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According to the research, during the Green Revolution in the 1960s and 1970s, Asian and Latin American countries experienced a dramatic increase in the production of wheat and other staples.

This increase was motivated by the use of new varieties and relying more heavily on fertilizer and irrigation, techniques that required cheap labour.

The report says, African countries sought to mimic their success, but the adoption of similar policies failed to increase agricultural output.

According to the Institute, today, African countries have witnessed a population explosion and land available for farming has decreased–spurring renewed optimism that the time is ripe for a Green Revolution. But labour has not become abundant and cheap.
“Assuming Africa is an appropriate setting for another Asian-style Green Revolution is misleading and could result in, yet again, a frustrated attempt to attain sustainable agricultural growth,” said IFPRI Senior Research Fellow Alejandro Nin-Pratt, lead author of the study.
The research focused on agriculture in Ghana, where small, low-income farmers predominate and fertilizer use is limited, but could be applicable to other African nations as well. Ghana was chosen for the study due to its fast population growth and remarkable agricultural performance.

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“Once again, the renewed optimism about the possibility of an Asian-style Green Revolution taking root in Africa overlooks some of the structural characteristics of African agriculture,” Nin-Pratt said.
“The population growth and increased population density we see across Africa may not be resulting in low labour costs,” he added. “For agriculture, this means farmers may not be keen to adopt the kind of labour-intensive technology that featured in the Asian Green Revolution.”