Can local and sustainable agriculture save biodiversity?

By Marco Maria Cerbo, Chargé d’Affaires a.i. at the Permanent Delegation of Italy to the international organisations in Paris, and Rebecca Graziosi, development co-operation intern

sustainable-agriculture.jpgDuring his speech at the Nobel Banquet, the newly-awarded laureate in Economic Sciences, William D. Nordhaus, declared: “Over the last half-century, the full implications of climate change and its impacts have been illuminated by the intensive research of scientists in different fields. These studies depict an increasingly dire picture of our future under uncontrolled climate change. […] Now, it is up to those who represent us, our elected leaders, to act responsibly to implement durable and effective solutions.”

Data can hardly deny this statement and our planet is now facing an unprecedented emergency. Globally, there is widely-cited evidence that the extinction rate of animal and plant species, as high as 1 000 times the background rate, is increasing rapidly as a result of human activities. In particular, biodiversity in farmland is diminishing, with effects on all of the ecosystem services that are essential to agriculture, including pest control, pollination and climate regulation. Pollution, climate change, over-exploitation of natural resources and changes in land use are the main drivers of biodiversity loss and are clearly related to human activities. Biodiversity is one of the most important legacies we can leave to future generations and its anthropogenic destruction requires urgent action by policy makers and a re-thinking of economic activities. Continue reading

Nigeria’s border closure: Why it will not pay off

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By Léopold Ghins and Philipp Heinrigs, OECD Sahel and West Africa Club Secretariat


This blog is part of a series marking the upcoming 
19th International Economic Forum on Africa


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Men offload rice at Bodija market, Ibadan, Nigeria. Flickr/IITA

It has been three months since Nigeria closed its land borders and to date there are few indications as to when they will open again. The country said it wants to reduce the smuggling of goods and stop illegal inflows of Asian rice and outflows of subsidised fuel. More fundamentally, Nigerian authorities justify the closure by the need to support the domestic agricultural sector and accelerate national productivity growth.

The closure is badly affecting livelihoods in local border economies. In Benin, communities in areas close to the Seme border near the sea, or further up north near the Owode border, largely depend on Nigerian markets for their sustenance. The sudden shutdown has caused thousands of smallholder farmers to lose their produce and default on credits. In the Dendi region (an area that spans across northern Benin, Niger and Nigeria), economic networks are strongly integrated across borders. Small traders that live on these networks have lost their principal sources of income. Continue reading

Turning the changing food needs of a rising middle class into decent jobs for rural youth

By Alexandre Kolev, Head of Unit, Social Cohesion, and Ji-Yeun Rim, Co-ordinator, Youth Inclusion Project, OECD Development Centre


To read more on this subject, check out
The Future of Rural Youth in Developing Countries:
Tapping the Potential of Local Value Chains


banner-youth-inclusion-home-page.890wRural youth constitute the majority of the youth population today in most developing countries, and their number keeps growing. Most of them are low educated, engaged in low-value added farming, and struggle to find better jobs to escape poverty and hardworking conditions. Only a tiny proportion of rural youth want to keep their jobs, and few work in high-skilled occupations. What is becoming increasingly clear is that rural youth are turning their backs on subsistence agriculture; they have high expectations, do not want to farm like their parents and are lured by the thought of better jobs in urban areas or abroad. As a result, many rural youth end up working in urban areas in low-productive informal activities.

What could break this cycle is growing local and regional demand for processed food from a rising urban middle class in many parts of the developing world. This represents an untapped opportunity to achieve the triple objectives of decent job creation for rural youth, food security and sustainable production. In Africa alone, domestic demand for processed food is growing fast, more than 1.5 times faster than the global average between 2005 and 2015. These trends offer huge opportunities for developing food systems geared toward local and regional markets, much larger than for global markets.

So, what’s standing in the way of achieving this opportunity? Continue reading

Jeunes : oser, innover, entreprendre !

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Par Awa Caba, Co-fondatrice, Sooretul 1


Pour en savoir plus sur ce sujet :
Le Forum mondial de l’OCDE sur le développement 2018
Cliquer ici pour vous inscrire


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Vendeurs de fruits à Thiès, Sénégal. Photo: shutterstock.com

Au Sénégal, les Petites et Moyennes Entreprises (PME) ou structures de production et transformation des produits agricoles se trouvent essentiellement dans la banlieue de la capitale (Guédiawaye à 15 km de Dakar) et dans les zones rurales autour de Kaolack, Ziguinchor, Kédougou, Thiès et Saint-Louis. Elles disposent de peu de moyens techniques et financiers pour se développer et commercialiser leurs produits. Leurs produits manquent notoirement de visibilité et de présence sur le marché local, dans les boutiques et les grandes surfaces.

La stratégie de pénétration du marché par ces structures s’effectue, en général, à travers la participation aux foires internationales. Ce sont malheureusement les seules occasions de vente à très grande échelle. Ce déficit des produits locaux sur le marché a plusieurs causes: peu de moyens mis en œuvre pour développer le secteur, des PME insuffisamment sensibilisées aux enjeux du packaging, et un manque de d’incitation au niveau politique pour favoriser la consommation de produits locaux.

Continue reading

Food prices must drop in Africa: How can this be achieved?

By Thomas Allen, Sahel and West Africa Club Secretariat (SWAC/OECD)

After the 2007-08 crisis, we got into the bad habit when discussing food prices of focusing almost exclusively on volatility and overlooking the question of the level of prices. Of course, reasons were good for this; between February 2007 and February 2008, world food prices jumped 60%. These increases combined with local factors had dramatic effects, particularly in West Africa, where millions of households already had insufficient income to cover their basic nutritional needs. Today, according to OECD and FAO projections, food prices are expected to remain stable in the medium-term. This is a good time to re-examine some important questions.

Are food products cheap in sub-Saharan Africa?

The question may seem surprising, as food is no doubt cheaper in the poorest countries. This is the first thing that any tourist would tell you, and it is confirmed by statistics. Sub-Saharan countries do indeed have the lowest prices in absolute terms (see figure). African food products are therefore much more affordable…for the European consumer. What about for the African consumer? Continue reading

Are we ready to prevent the next food price crisis?

By Denis Drechsler, Project Manager, Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

food-crisisWhen prices of staple food crops soared in international markets in 2007-10, it was a wakeup call for many world leaders to take action. In view of millions of families being pushed into hunger, the G20 decided to create the Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS) to combat excessive volatility by enhancing transparency and policy co-ordination in international food markets.

Since its launch in 2011, AMIS has provided more reliable and timely assessments of global food supplies by working closely with the main trading countries of staple food crops. This has created a more level playing field for all market actors to make informed decisions. Even more important have been achievements in the area of policy dialogue. When maize prices spiked in 2012, for example, regular exchanges among the key producing countries helped avoid a repeat of hasty policy action, such as export bans that had exacerbated market turbulences in the past. Through AMIS, it seems, the world is better prepared to minimise the risk of future food price crises.

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Strengthening Regional Agricultural Integration in West Africa

By John Staatz, Professor Emeritus, Dept. of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics, Michigan State University

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Photo credit: Ryan Vroegindewey

Soaring and volatile international food prices since 2007-08 have forced West African governments and their development partners to translate their long-standing rhetoric about support for West African agriculture into concrete programmes. Doing so effectively, however, has proven much more challenging than simply meeting the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) goal of increasing the share of national budgets and donor funds dedicated to the agricultural sector. A recently released joint study by the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA) and Michigan State University (MSU) draws lessons from such efforts over the past 10 years and suggests ways in which policies and programmes can be more effective in helping West Africa feed its young, burgeoning and increasingly urban population. Research by MSU, SFSA and West African scholars provides a number of crucial policy insights. Continue reading