A New Way of Doing Business on Food Security: Blog
Today, Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the fastest growing regions in the world, home to seven of the world’s fastest-growing economies. In fact, just this week, the International Monetary Fund’s Regional Economic Outlook for Sub-Saharan Africa projected Sub-Saharan Africa’s growth to remain above 5 percent — faster than many newly industrialized Asian economies.
The major force behind this dramatic growth has been significant increases in private sector investment and trade in the region. Foreign direct investment flows to the continent now hover around $80 billion and trade has tripled over the last decade. But this private sector boom has largely missed Africa’s agricultural economy, favoring investments in resources like oil, gas and minerals.
As a result of decades of underinvestment, today Africa is the only continent that does not produce enough to feed its own citizens. Last year’s food crisis and famine in the Horn of Africa serve as a stark reminder that chronic hunger and malnutrition remain a persistent problem on the continent.
In 2009, at the G8 Summit in L’Aquila, Italy, President Obama and G8 leaders refocused the world’s attention on food security, leading to $22 billion in commitments toward global agriculture. But even as we maintain these commitments in tough economic times, we know that Africa needs more than aid. It needs a new way of building economic stability.
This week at the G8 Summit at Camp David, we are launching a New Alliance for Food and Nutrition Security between African nations, international donors and private firms. Together, we will lift 50 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa out of hunger and poverty within 10 years — that’s more than one out of every eight people currently in poverty in the region.
African governments are showing incredible leadership by undertaking serious market-oriented reforms. For instance, Tanzania has committed to overturn an export ban on staple commodities that has in the past been implemented during food emergencies. Tanzania will also strengthen land tenure rights for poor farmers and open the local seed market to greater private sector competition.
The governments of Ghana and Ethiopia are committing to similar reforms, with other African nations in line to follow suit. Donors will continue to invest in country-owned agricultural development plans while creating new tools to shield farmers from risk and increase access to cutting-edge agricultural technologies. That means smallholder farmers will be able to sow better seeds and access real-time market prices on their mobile phones.
That support has encouraged private sector firms — from African businesses like Tanzania’s TANSEED, to multinational’s like DuPont — to increase their investments in African agriculture.
Building on 20 years of local experience in agriculture in Africa, DuPont has committed to helping smallholder farmers by building local collaborations that enhance agriculture value chains – from improved inputs and financing to infrastructure and market access.
To help make better informed decisions that drive sustainable action, DuPont is sponsoring the development of a clear monitoring and tracking index from the Economist Intelligence Unit. To be published in July, the Global Food Security Index will consider the core issues of food affordability, availability, access and quality across a set of 105 countries. This interactive benchmarking tool will be publically available, so every business, government and NGO can access the relevant data to help tailor local solutions.
All told, the New Alliance will lead more than 45 companies to invest more than $3 billion in African agriculture, creating a new model of public-private partnership to fight hunger, improve livelihoods and support African nations as they chart their own future.
While this vision is ambitious, we believe we can finally come together to prove to the world that hunger can be beaten.