The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has called on African governments to strengthen land tenure policies, and improve access to credit and equity in supply contracts as part of measures to guarantee food security on the continent.
BY PAIDAMOYO MUZULU
In its latest report titled The State of Food and Agriculture 2017, released in Rome, Italy, yesterday, the United Nations agency cited the three factors as key in curbing food shortages.
“The first involves putting in place a range of policies designed to ensure that small-scale producers are able to participate fully in meeting urban food demands. Measures to strengthen land tenure rights, ensure equity in supply contracts, or improve access to credit are, but a few options,” FAO said.
The advice also applies to countries like Zimbabwe in particular that implemented wide-reaching land reforms in 2000, but has not yet given title deeds to thousands of resettled farmers. The new farmers are also struggling to gain access to cheaper financing or having access to markets that give them a good return on their investment.
The statement added: “The second is to build up the necessary infrastructure to connect rural areas and urban markets – in many developing countries the lack of rural roads, electrical power grids, storage facilities, and refrigerated transportation systems is a major bottleneck for farmers seeking to take advantage of urban demand for fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy.
“The third involves including not just mega-cities into well-connected rural-urban economies, but knitting in smaller, more spread-out urban areas as well.”
FAO also said the value of urban food markets in sub-Saharan Africa would likely increase fourfold between 2010 and 2030, from $313 billion to $1 trillion. It also noted in East and Southern Africa, the share of urban consumers in the purchased food market was already 52% and was forecast to rise to 67 % by 2040.