Africa is experiencing many hurdles in its path to becoming a world agricultural superpower. Ranging from extreme weather conditions to lack of market expertise and infrastructure development, as discussed in a recent post, innovative policies must be found to sustain Africa’s agricultural growth. African agriculture is nearly 95 per cent rain fed leaving most countries vulnerable to fluctuations in rainfall patterns. So what is being done to support the countries most affected?
The African Development Bank Group (AFDB) has responded by announcing a relief package of US $549m to support 14 countries in Eastern and Southern Africa which are most affected by the ongoing drought affecting crop and livestock production systems. The relief package will provide capital to support emergency relief and to ensure faster disbursements of funds to ongoing projects aimed to build the countries’ resilience to droughts.
One of East Africa’s up and coming agri countries, Ethiopia, has been the subject of continued development and progress in the agricultural sector. Most recently Ethiopia has launched a new initiative to amalgamate five state-owned enterprises which are already engaged in agriculture under a wider corporate structure, the Ethiopian Agricultural Business Corporation (EABC). The EABC will operate with the support of 2.4bn Birr (£7.68m) constituted by a combination of paid-up cash, cash in kind and government funds to be released at a future date.
This is all part of the government’s wider plan to drive efficiency by streamlining and avoiding repetition of mandates, with the ultimate goal to create a positive and enabling environment for the country to be self-reliant in food security, and to improve the financial standing of the various enterprises.
The EABC will engage in a spectrum of work including preparing farmland designs, irrigation works, producing agricultural tools, breeding seeds and providing agricultural inputs, as well as engagement in personnel training and research. It intends to distribute 800,000 metric tons of fertilizers and 370,000 quintals of selected seeds to farmers during this year’s farming season and appears to be on track to meet these targets, according to its Executive Director, Kefyalew Birhanu. The EABC’s scope of work is furthered by its plans to stabilize prices of agricultural commodities and construction equipment.
Although the current difficulties faced by farmers still need to be dealt with, for example by appropriate insurance - in 2015 Oromia Insurance Company paid out 525,000 Birr to farmers under the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change programme, as a result of drought losses - the country’s specific focus appears to be shifting to prevention.
Continuing on this path should put Ethiopia especially in good stead to tackle the incessant problems the agricultural sector in Africa faces.
The Inside Africa team would like to thank Ria Patel, Trainee, for her contribution to this blog post.