10 reasons to invest bigger and better in agriculture in Africa

Eric Hazard

Blog post by Eric Hazard

Oxfam Great Britain, Head of the GROW campaign in West Africa
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“The promise is more binding than the debt.” African proverb

As I write this blog, over 810,000 people are in need of immediate food aid in northern Mali and in total there are around three million people, over half of whom live in northern Mali, at risk of having nothing to eat in the coming months.

In 2003, African leaders came together in Maputo, Mozambique and agreed to re-invest their resources and refocus national attention to building stronger, more dynamic agriculture sectors to improve food security, reduce poverty and spur rural development. The so-called Maputo Declaration has been an absolutely critical driver in maintaining focus on those who need it most – the small scale producers, the women, men and children struggling to get enough to eat.

From promise to action

In Maputo the African leaders made promises in Maputo to invest at least 10 percent of their national budgets on the agriculture sector. However, reality has left a bitter taste in the mouths of too many African food producers: only 8 countries of the 54 that make up the African Union have kept their promise!

The time is ripe to take action: governments across have launched an effort this year to take stock of what has been achieved in the fight against hunger and to plot a path forward at the continental, regional and country levels. If more budgets come prepared to re-commit efforts to meet their Maputo commitments, the impact for African food producers could be tremendous.

Sign the petition to African leaders: Invest in our farmers, food and future

Our goal: 1 million signatures

We are determined, together with the ONE Campaign and many farmer and pastoralist organizations across the African continent, to make sure the commitments made in Maputo are translated into concrete acts and this has prompted us to start a petition “For a new commitment to Maputo“ to deliver at the upcoming meeting of African Union Heads of State and Government.

Our aim is to collect a million signatures from across the African continent and beyond. Add your voice and share with a friend who is interested in Africans helping themselves.

Hunger is a reality: 400 million people, mainly dependent on agriculture, remain caught in the cycle of poverty.

The African Union has declared 2014 to be “the year of agriculture and food security.” This offers a unique opportunity for farmers, livestock herders, rural women and the African public to demand that the African Union move from promises to action.

A ladder out of poverty

This is what the GROW campaign members in partnership with the NGO ONE, wish to remind African leaders: Keeping the promise of Maputo creates a ladder out of poverty and hunger.

You too can change the lives of small scale farmers: sign the petition so our Governments invest bigger and better in agriculture.

10 reasons to invest in agriculture

Still need convincing? Here are 10 reasons to sign and support this appeal to invest more in agriculture and farming:

  1. Agriculture provides employment for 63% of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa and creates 30% of its wealth.
  2. Family run agriculture provides 90% of basic food production in sub-Saharan Africa.
  3. West African women help to grow 80% of staple foods.
  4. Investing in African agriculture is 11 times more effective in reducing poverty than investing in other sectors.
  5. Hunger is not inevitable; it is the result of apathy! By investing in agriculture and livestock farming, repeated food crises can be anticipated and we can prevent them from becoming disasters.
  6. Apathy is expensive. In Niger, the accumulated expenditures to deal with the last two food crises amounted to 404.29 billion CFA francs ($840.3 million); whilst spending on the rural sector totalled 302.64 billion CFA francs ($629 million) for the period covering 2007 - 2010.
  7. Investment pays off: in Senegal support to the onion growing sector has helped it to go from 40,000 tonnes in 2003, to 177,000 tonnes by 2010, and it now represents 22 billion CFA francs ($45.7 million) per year.
  8. Investment pays off: in Mali, the Rice initiative has improved productivity, which went from 3.5 tonnes per hectare to 4.5 in 2008 and 5 tonnes in 2009.
  9. Investment pays off: between 1992 and 1998, the Guinea government provided support to the growing of local Guinean potatoes and production went from less than 300 tonnes in 1992 to close to 6,000 tonnes in 2003.
  10. We all need a farmer three times a day. Now it is the African farmers who need a new commitment to African agriculture that supports family run farms and puts an end to food insecurity in Africa!

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