Trade plays a critical role in economic development and agricultural transformation. However, reported intra-regional trade in Africa south of the Sahara (SSA) has historically been quite low, potentially impacting poverty, livelihoods, and food security in the region. Over the past decade, policymakers have set out to change this, signing the 2014 Malabo Declaration that aims to triple intra-African trade in agricultural goods by 2025 and establishing the African Continental Free Trade Agreement to remove barriers to cross-border trade.
Food security in West Africa has been deteriorating since 2015: The proportion of the population affected by undernutrition rose from 11.5% in 2015 to 18.7% in 2020, a total of 75.2 million people. Now, like the rest of the world, the region faces rapidly growing impacts from Russia’s war in Ukraine, including spiking food prices and disruptions in markets for cereals and other commodities, including fertilizers and fuels. What are some of the war’s likely effects on West Africa?
Over the past three decades, contract farming has grown in popularity with policymakers and development practitioners throughout low- and middle-income countries. Under contract farming schemes, farmers and buyers enter into preharvest agreements regarding the production and sale of agricultural goods. Farmers are thus assured they will have a buyer for their product, and traders and retailers are guaranteed a supply of saleable goods.
In developing countries, rural non-farm labor is rapidly catching up with agriculture in socioeconomic importance. By engaging in non-farm labor—activities like handicrafts, small-scale manufacturing, construction, mining, quarrying, repair, transport, and petty trading—farmers can earn additional income outside of their farms. This income can in turn can be invested in household food security and in productivity-enhancing agricultural inputs. A study in Ghana published in Food Security also finds that participation in non-farm labor can also lead to greater participation in crop markets.
Prevalence of hunger and food insecurity have been on the rise in Africa south of the Sahara (SSA) in recent years after a long period of decline. In 2020, an estimated one in five people in the region faced hunger, more than double the proportion of any other region worldwide. The period 2019-2020 in SSA saw the strongest increase in annual undernourishment ever recorded. In 2020, estimated prevalence of undernourishment ranged from 10.1 percent in southern Africa to 31.8 percent in Central Africa.