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Awakening Africa’s Sleeping Giant : Prospects for Commercial Agriculture in the Guinea Savannah Zone and Beyond(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2009-06) Morris, Michael ; Larson, GunnarStimulating agricultural growth is critical to reducing poverty in Africa. Commercial agriculture, potentially a powerful driver of agricultural growth, can develop along a number of pathways. Yet many developing regions have failed to progress very far along any of these pathways. Particularly in Africa, agriculture continues to lag. During the past 30 years the competitiveness of many African export crops has declined, and Africa's dependence on imported food crops has increased. While the poor performance of African agriculture can be attributed partly to adverse agroecological conditions, experience from elsewhere in the developing world suggests that significant progress is possible. The Guinea Savannah covers some 600 million hectares in Africa, of which about 400 million can be used for agriculture. Less than ten percent of this area is currently cropped, making it one of the largest underused agricultural land reserves in the world.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2008-09) Larson, GunnarFood insecurity and income poverty are rampant in Sub-Saharan Africa. Thirty-one percent of children under the age of five are malnourished and some 72 percent of the population lives on less than US$2 day. Forty-one percent lives on less than US$1 day. The impoverished and hungry are concentrated disproportionately in rural areas and rely mainly on the consumption and sale of agricultural produce for their food and income. Africa has experienced increasing dependency on food imports that its countries cannot afford. Yet an estimated 700,000 hectares of arable land in Africa remains uncultivated. It is land that could become productive through small-scale irrigation using basic technology to draw on small-water resources, such as tube wells, and dambos. The technologies can be applied to cultivate smallholder plots of up to five hectares. Employing them will enable up to 4 million low-income households to intensify agricultural production and increase productivity. Small-scale irrigation can increase agricultural productivity and production, thus contributing to economic growth in rural areas and increased well-being among small holder farmers. Its potential to increase and stabilize food supply is especially important in light of the ongoing food crisis, and especially in Africa. Expanding the use of small-scale irrigation requires farmers to have access to financial services. The many constraints and obstacles that rural financial institutions in Africa confront must be purposefully navigated if financial services are to fulfill this role. Effectively tailoring financial services and products to support irrigation in different settings and among different client groups will be essential to success. Carefully targeting grant funding to the very poorest subsistence farmers and clearly separating it from lending will be likewise be critical to the sustainability of these financial services.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2007-12) Agwe, JonathanThis Program states that larger investments in agricultural research, extension, and education systems are required to achieve the targeted increase in agricultural output of 6 percent a year over the next 20 years.To enhance the quality and productivity of Agricultural Education and Training (AET) in Africa, the case for improving its agricultural education capacities is compelling in view of their seminal role in agricultural development elsewhere in the world. AET development was an integral part of strategies of countries that grew agriculture successfully, such as Brazil, India, and Malaysia. The analytical work carried out on AET in Africa identified some priorities as key to modernize agricultural education in Africa These priorities are: 1 Political will must be generated in support of agricultural development by educating the public about its role in economic growth and poverty reduction, creating capacities for lobbying, joining forces with other stakeholders, and sustaining these efforts over two or three decades.(2) It is desirable to assess and re-balance AET enrollment profiles away from secondary level vocational training towards diploma, degree, and post-graduate levels (3) It is essential to replenish human capital by strengthening and expanding national Master of Science programs, laying the foundation for Ph.D. programs, and tackling the conundrum of incentives for staff retention.(4) Finances must be managed proactively by making more efficient use of existing resources, mobilizing non-public resources, and persuading donors to finance operating costs.(5) Much better gender balance must be achieved among AET graduates. African universities and other institutions of higher learning ultimately will be responsible for replenishing the stock of human capital in national research and extension services, and for providing them with the broader set of skills necessary to grow agriculture in the 21st century.
Publication( 2007-05) Agwe, Jonathan ; Morris, Michael ; Fernabdes, ErickReversing Africa's decades-long decline in soil productivity levels poses a major challenge, and one that cannot be addressed without increased use of appropriate fertilizer nutrients. The 2006 World Bank Africa Fertilizer Strategy Assessment was undertaken to inform policy makers, providing them with guidelines on measures to effectively raise fertilizer use. This Note draws upon the material prepared for the above fertilizer strategy assessment, summarizes the information on the approaches to enhancing fertilizer supply and use in Africa, and identifies some future steps.