BRICS countries well placedJune 19, 2017
The agricultural sector is the world’s largest single employer. It provides jobs for more than 40% of the global population. It’s also the largest source of income and jobs for poor, rural households. It is, by and large, a successful sector. There have been huge improvements in yields and food production over the past five decades. And yet hundreds of millions of people in Africa are going hungry every day. Globally, 800 million people are categorised as chronically hungry. Around 30% of them – 227 million people – live in Africa. So where is the disconnect between food production and food security in Africa? Why does the continent spend about US $40 billion a year importing food when so many of its own residents are farmers? And how can this situation be changed? At least part of the answer lies with science. There are already several excellent examples of ways in which science has led to dramatic increases in food production and moved farmers in some countries closer to self-sufficiency.Africa is behind the curve on investing in research to improve agriculture outputs. Even though all 54 countries of the African Union have signed up to successive commitments – starting with the Maputo Declaration in 2003 – to increase their agricultural research budgets to at least 10% of their national budgets, few have actually done so.