Agricultural and Rural Development Notes

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This series on commodity risk management aims to disseminate the results of World Bank research that describes the feasibility of developing countries’ ability to utilize market-based tools to mitigate risks associated with commodity price volatility and weather.

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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, Gunnar
    Stimulating 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.
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    Cultivating Knowledge and Skills to Grow African Agriculture
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2007-12) Agwe, Jonathan
    This 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.
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    Africa’s Growing Soil Fertility Crisis : What Role For Fertilizer?
    ( 2007-05) Agwe, Jonathan ; Morris, Michael ; Fernabdes, Erick
    Reversing 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.