Monday, March 10, 2014

Africa can and should feed itself.

In line with Thomas Lines, Making Poverty: A History (London: Zed Books, 2008) Africa should definitely strive to again become self-sufficient in food. Import substitution as an agricultural rather than an industrial strategy would greatly help the continent by saving foreign exchange, reorienting trade towards internal integration, and ending the cycle of having to export ever greater amounts of cash crops just to feed the existing population. Tariffs, International Commodity Agreements, and state support for better rural infrastructure can all contribute to this goal. It should be noted that neither China nor India import significantly more food than they export and that this has been due to deliberate policy and is one of the key reasons for their relative economic success in recent decades. In contrast many African countries including Ghana unfortunately import the bulk of their staples including rice, chicken, and vegetables. Accra alone is a huge market for food and it makes no sense for Dutch chicken ranchers and Thai rice farmers to dominate that market at the expense of Ghanaian farmers. Ghana and the rest of Africa can and should feed itself like it once did. There just needs to be the political will power to enact government policies that would encourage increased production of agricultural staples to the point where there is not a net importation of such crops.

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