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Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2009-01) Syroka, Joanna ; Bunte, KaraMalawi periodically experiences drought leading to shortages of grain on the domestic market and a sharp increase in consumer prices. Consumers, including many of the poorest farmers in the country, experience difficulty obtaining enough grain to meet their family requirements. One method to reduce the risks of grain shortfalls is to improve the capacity of farmers to produce enough grain even when drought occurs, for example, through input subsidies and efforts to improve water use efficiency. An additional measure is to finance the establishment and distribution of strategic grain stocks. However, in the occasional year when drought is most extreme, supplementary assistance will still be needed in the form of expensive food imports and, possibly, food aid.
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( 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.