In the spring of 2022, we taught a graduate level course titled “Agri-food Systems and Economic Development” in Georgetown University’s Global Human Development Program. One of the assignments was writing a policy brief on the impact of a major shock to food systems (such as a significant policy or technological change, natural disaster, or the COVID-19 pandemic) on a sub-population in a country or region. This post by Christian Kamm is based on the assignment.
In countries across Africa south of the Sahara (SSA), agricultural value chains often rely on agro-dealers—small-scale local distributors—to help bridge the gap between input firms and farmers. Agro-dealers can thus form an important node of the value chain, providing access to critical inputs like seeds, inorganic fertilizers, and new agricultural technologies that can help increase productivity and improve food security.
East Africa facing acute food insecurity as drought continues, alerts FEWS and FAO
Since the 1990s, the Tanzanian government has striven to transform the country into a semi-industrialized economy supported by productive commercial agriculture. To accomplish this goal, policymakers pursued a policy of trade liberalization and reduced government intervention, including the agricultural sector. As a result, Tanzania has experienced a moderately high agricultural sector growth rate of 4.1 percent per year over the last two decades; this rate is comparable with neighboring countries including Kenya (4 percent growth per year) and Uganda (3.2 percent).
Trade restrictions such as export bans have been a popular way for governments to protect their countries’ domestic food supplies, but research suggests that such policies are largely ineffective and even detrimental. A new policy note from the Malawi Strategy Support Program examines Malawi’s use of these policies and presents alternative policies that could help better meet the country’s food security and agricultural development goals. (Also read about the use of export bans in Tanzania )