African Business: Special Report on Agriculture

This Special Report in the August/September issue will be of great interest to anyone working in African agricultural development.  You can access the first few paragraphs of the story at:, but will need to purchase the magazine to read the entire report.  There are several sections as follows:

Agriculture moves centre stage looks at the big picture:  falling investments in research; the huge returns on the research that has been conducted (an FAO study concluded that for every dollar invested in ag research there has been a 37% return); the need for a focus on market-driven policies and interventions; the need to look at entire value chains and not focus on individual links; and concludes that “…decades of neglect…that are only now beginning to be reversed, have made it difficult for the (ag) sector to unlock the (potential) social benefits…”

Add value to harvest profits discusses cassava and cacao value chains and how “value-adds” (e.g., Fair Trade premiums, new cassava based products, production of finished cocoa products, etc.) have boosted local economies and increased incomes.

‘Land grab’ – boon or curse? visits a subject we have commented on before and discusses how leasing land to foreign investors can be of benefit to African economies even if outputs are all exported.  It warns, however, of the increasing amount of agricultural land that is being used to grow crops to satisfy EU legislation on biofuels.

Turning poachers into farmers.  Malnutrition has driven the market demand for bush meat to the point at which an increasing number of species are now endangered.  Teaching poachers how to farm and providing them with quality seed and output markets is paying off.

Growth corridors to agric profits profiles Yara, a Norwegian conglomerate that is best known in Africa for its aggressive marketing of mineral fertilizers.  Yara believes that the key to success is “to align resources in order to make the entire value chain function efficiently.”  Seed + fertilizer + irrigation + storage + transport + private sector investment, etc.  can lead to sustainable growth.

Some donors and international organizations have already got the message about value chain development, regional export markets and the need to grow African owned businesses.  The focus for the next generation of development will be on technical and business training and support, and on “connecting the dots” so that surpluses in one country or region can reach other regions where there are shortages.

Post written by Peter Bloch, consultant to CAS-IP

3 responses to “African Business: Special Report on Agriculture

  1. “an FAO study concluded that for every dollar invested in ag research there has been a 37% return”
    Does anyone know the title of this report? I would be interested to know more. Peter says he emailed to ask for the source but has so far not received a response.

  2. Wow! I love every bit of this!
    Cant wait for the next article! Bravo!!

  3. IFDC has been contracted by the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa’s (COMESA) specialized agency the Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa (ACTESA) to provide technical and business management training to more than 6,000 agro dealers and agents in Burundi, Ethiopia, Malawi, Rwanda, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe over the next 12 months. This work is being funded by the European Union through the COMESA Regional Agro Inputs Program (COMRAP) and is an example of the type of initiative being started to support the development of value chains.

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