The Cluster Corner

by Mémé ATsan Fall
Advisor Be4Ag CBL-ACP

We have seen significant progress on vital issues of agriculture, food security, and the environment over the past few years. Scientific and technological breakthroughs have led to impressive increases in agricultural productivity and reduced hunger around the world. This year, more grain will be harvested than at any time in history. And yet, in this era of plenty, one in nine people do not have enough food to eat. Another two billion may eat, but their meals lack the nutrition necessary for proper health and development. These failures seriously damage life chances for individuals and reduce the potential of communities and economies.
Global population growth and increasing prosperity could increase the demand for food by 50% by 2050. But our planetary boundaries are already reaching their limits. Land and freshwater resources, the very basis of our food production, are under heavy stress, and oceans, forests, and other ecosystems are being degraded at an unprecedented scale. Conflicts over resources and the devastating impacts of climate change risk pushing millions more into abject poverty and hunger. And as always, it is the world’s poorest who suffer most. We see this now in Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and Northern Nigeria where more than 20 million people are in desperate need of food assistance.
The challenges to feed the world sustainably are huge, but fortunately we are not starting from scratch. With the Sustainable Development Goals, the global community has adopted a compelling vision with ambitious goals. To successfully implement the SDGs, governments of all countries must play a critical role, but it is not their responsibility alone. Fulfilling these ambitions requires an unprecedented effort by all sectors in society, and business must be at the heart of this endeavor. The expectations are high, and so are the opportunities. Across the world, an increasing number of businesses are already looking beyond short-term profit to create value through sustainable solutions for society. Such decisions are not simply motivated by altruism, but rather by a clear understanding that social risks are detrimental to their bottom line.
Far-sighted companies are doing business responsibly and embracing new technologies to deliver on wider goals of development, including improving access to food and clean water, to sanitation, healthcare and education. They are building alliances and partnerships to drive innovation, create jobs, and advance equitable growth. Today, I would like to highlight five priority areas where I believe we need to reshape agriculture and food systems to better feed the world and deliver sustainable development.
First, we need greater investment, particularly in developing countries where the need and potential for increasing agricultural productivity and production are greatest. This would help feed growing populations sustainably, while creating jobs and incomes across rural areas, particularly for young people. One example of this is in Africa, where over the last decade, countries have started to put greater emphasis on investment in agriculture and supporting policies and regulations. Indeed, history shows that increasing agricultural productivity is a critical driver of economic transformation and social development.
Second, we have to make sure that smallholder farmers, who produce nearly 70% of all food consumed worldwide, are at the heart of all our efforts. Government and the private sector can and must form innovative partnerships with farmers’ organizations and smallholders, providing access to better seeds, sustainable farming techniques, and modern technologies. Major companies, are already providing tools and training to smallholders in Sub-Saharan African and other regions, thereby filling critical gaps along the value chain. It is crucial that the bigger corporations share market access, financing and knowledge with small farmers and local agribusinesses. The greatest success will come if all stakeholders work in close partnership. This is a reason to work in Africa with leaders from various sectors in an effort to turn smallholders into agro-entrepreneurs and subsistence farms into profitable businesses.
Third, we must ensure that agriculture and food systems become nutrition-smart, because it’s not just about the amount of food we grow, it’s also about the type of food that we consume. For we are what we eat. Evidence shows that nutrition is crucial for economic growth as better nourished populations are more productive. We need governments to urgently adopt the right policies and mobilize resources to scale-up nutrition. The food industry must support these efforts by providing consumers with access to more nutritious foods. Scientific research and innovation is equally important in this context. In Ghana, the wonderful impact of biofortified Vitamin A-rich sweet potatoes in helping address stunting in children and improving the health of pregnant women and mothers.
Fourth, we need food systems that produce more food but with fewer resources as we are reaching a point where our capacity to meet current and future needs is seriously jeopardized. Governments have to adopt, enforce and strengthen policies that promote responsible natural resource management and prevent the loss of natural habitats, forests and biodiversity. It is crucial that businesses source, process and manage resources efficiently to meet growing demand, while preserving our environment and climate. This must include responsible water stewardship, striving for zero waste and using energy resources more sustainably.
Fifth, we must seize this moment to push for climate-smart agriculture and food systems. Cutting down agriculture’s climate footprint and shifting towards renewable energy sources will not only help to avert climate catastrophe, but also create new opportunities for investment, growth and employment. At the same time, we need to strengthen farmers’ resilience to climate-related shocks, including through weather information systems and crop insurance programmes.
There are many challenges to overcome, but shifting to sustainable food systems and agriculture is possible if sustained and bold leadership from every sector can be ensured. We have the expertise, the technologies and the evidence needed to succeed. Let us all – business, the public sector and civil society – live up to this grave responsibility. Let us turn aspiration into action and build a food secure, sustainable, and prosperous world founded on these pillars of progress.

Mrs Fall Advisor Be4Ag CBL-ACP



by Mrs.Fall

Advisor Be4Ag CBL-ACP




Despite its huge agricultural potential, Africa spends around US$35bn each year on food imports. This number may rise above US$110bn by 2025 due to rapid population growth, changes in dietary habits and the increasingly severe impacts of climate change. The lack of food sustainability, as well as food and nutrition insecurity in sub-Saharan Africa, is likely to aggravate unless bold action is taken on six key issues.


First, smallholder farmers’ productivity has to rise significantly, as a large majority of Africans rely on agriculture for their livelihoods. African crop yields are amongst the lowest in the world due to poor seeds and degraded soils, a lack of fertiliser and other essential inputs, and insufficient mechanisation and transport infrastructure. A shift from farming as a subsistence activity to farming as a business is needed and has to be matched with the right set of policies, institutions and investments.

Encouragingly, exciting progress is being made. For example, African research institutes—with the support of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa—have developed within a decade more than 600 new crop varieties. Seed companies are now producing more than 130 metric tonnes of seeds for approximately 15m farmers.

Second, and related to the first point, as smallholder farmers lack the means to adapt to rising temperatures and adverse weather events such as droughts and floods, there is a critical need to strengthen the ability of farming communities to cope with the impacts of climate change. Investing in weather forecast systems, insurance schemes, efficient irrigation technology and heat- or drought-tolerant crop varieties can help boost farm productivity under increasingly severe climate conditions.

Third, leveraging the transformation of African agriculture and raising productivity levels requires a reform of customary land-tenure systems. Smallholder farmers with weak and insecure tenure rights are under threat of being evicted from their farms and have little incentive to invest in their land. A reform of tenure systems also has to include a consolidation of farm plots to make commercial agriculture viable.


Fourth, there is a need to develop and strengthen agricultural value chains, including agro-processing industries. These bear enormous potential for job creation and value addition. African governments have to adjust their private-sector development and industrial policies in order to attract more agribusinesses and investors. They, in turn, have to link up with smaller farms and related economic sectors and work in close partnership.

Fifth, we have to make every effort to triple intra-African trade in agricultural commodities and services by 2025, one of the goals of the 2014 Malabo Declaration. Compared with other world regions, intra-African food trade is dismally low. The share of trade in agricultural products among African countries that is intra-regional varied between 13% and 20% over the period from 2000 to 2013, while European and Asian countries traded 75% and 63% among their respective regions, respectively. African countries have to remove trade barriers for food and reap the benefits of larger markets.

Finally, we need to recognise that stability and peace are necessary conditions for agricultural development, food security and the long-term sustainability of food systems. In parts of the Sahel and the Horn of Africa, millions of people are at risk of starvation due to violent conflict, radical extremism and insecurity. People are forced to migrate to seek for alternatives to secure their livelihoods. Our efforts to combat hunger have to go hand-in-hand with those to build peaceful and prosperous societies.

The importance of making agricultural systems more sustainable and addressing nutritional challenges is highlighted by the Food Sustainability Index, developed by The Economist Intelligence Unit with the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition. It is high time that we prioritise agricultural development and work together to tackle the root causes of hunger and poverty. If we get this right, Africa will not just be able to feed itself, but to contribute to global food and nutrition security, and therefore more stability throughout the world.


The Malabo Declaration was endorsed by the African Union (AU) Heads of State & Government in 2014; for which they agreed to track progress every two years starting in 2018.

The Heads of State and Government adopted a set of concrete agriculture goals to be achieved by 2025. The Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods is a set of goals showing a more targeted approach to achieve the agricultural vision for the continent which is shared prosperity and improved livelihoods.

The seven Malabo Commitments were translated into seven thematic areas of performance:

  • Re-committing to the Principles and Values of the CAADP Process;
  • Enhancing investment nuance in agriculture;
  • Ending Hunger in Africa by 2025;
  • Reducing poverty by half, by 2025, through inclusive agricultural growth and transformation;
  • Boosting intra-African trade in agricultural commodities and services;
  • Enhancing resilience of livelihoods and production systems to climate variability and other related risks; and
  • Strengthening mutual accountability to actions and results.



The 2030 Agenda offers a vision for food and agriculture as key to sustainable development. The new Agenda includes:

  • 17 goals, 169 targets and 230 indicators
  • Means of implementation and the global partnership
  • Review and follow-up.

Two other major outcomes in 2015 are integral to the 2030 Agenda:

  • Addis Ababa Action Agenda, a framework for financial and non-financial means of implementation
  • Paris Climate Agreement, a global treaty to limit climate change

Food and agriculture are key to achieving the entire set of SDGs – A focus on rural development and investment in agriculture – crops, livestock, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture – are powerful tools to end poverty and hunger, and bring about sustainable development. Agriculture has a major role to play in combating climate change.

We can end hunger and poverty by 2030 – The 2030 Agenda’s historic commitment to rid the world of the twin scourges of poverty and hunger can become a reality – if we work together. The interconnectedness of the goals means that all actors supporting countries in implementing and monitoring global goals must partner and share knowledge.

Agriculture will play a crucial role in addressing the planet’s future needs – whether on food production, health or the preservation of the environment. But transforming the dominant agricultural model could be the greatest challenge of all.

The goals span the whole range of policy areas, from rural poverty to global hunger, climate resilience, and population growth. Nine of them are directly or indirectly connected with farming, conferring a special multi-dimensional status to agriculture. Agriculture needs to be an integral part of the solutions for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which requires a systems approach