The 2014 Africa Progress Panel report presents the two faces of Africa: robust economic growth and continuing poverty. But the report suggests Africa could change this duality by asking: how can resources make a positive impact on development? While impressive headline growth figures are reported, incomes do not trickle down to improve livelihoods of the majority of the population.
Diversifying sources of growth, to include a strengthened agriculture sector that works with nature and not against it, will go a long way to improving livelihoods, considering that the sector currently employs about 60% of Africa’s labour force, most of it rural.
Despite the importance of the agricultural sector to Africa’s development the continent had a food import bill of over USD35 billion in 2011 (excluding fish).The imports of food exceed exports by 30 percent. Less than 10 countries have managed to achieve the Maputo Declaration goal of allocating 10% of budgetary resources to agriculture or the CAADP goal of achieving 6% annual growth in agricultural GDP, while about 25 percent of the African population (around 245 million persons) still does not have enough food to meet their basic nutritional needs and between 30 to 40 percent of children less than 5 years continue to suffer from chronic under-nutrition. Additionally it is estimated that some 65% of the agricultural land in Africa is classified as degraded. Given that it can take nature up to 1,000 years to form one centimeter of soil, and with human population and food needs increasing, critical limits are being reached that make soil stewardship an urgent matter for agriculture and food security in Africa.
More information: www.afsac2.aaknet.org