, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp 195-213,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 15 Apr 2011

Agriculture and food security in selected countries in Sub-Saharan Africa: diversity in trends and opportunities

Abstract

The World Food Summit in 1996 set the goal of reducing by half the numbers of malnourished people in the world by 2015. It is unlikely that this will be reached, and particularly not in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Food imports in SSA have increased in the past 40 years, since domestic production could not keep up with population growth. Several studies have reported about this stagnating food production in SSA. However, this region encompasses a large number of countries, with a great variety of agroecological zones and large differences in land, labour and other resources. The objectives of this paper are to analyse agricultural production and food security in eight countries in Sub-Saharan Africa over the past 40 years, and to investigate to what extent these countries have followed different agricultural development pathways and are faced with different constraints. The analysis is largely based on statistical data, mainly from FAO, and on other information from various national and international sources. It shows that some of these countries have struggled to achieve and maintain overall national food security, while others have been able to achieve more than that and increased production at a faster rate than population growth. It subsequently analyzes major development constraints, with regard to labour, land and water, and institutions, pinpoints certain positive developments that have taken place in some of the countries and looks at opportunities for the respective countries to improve their food situation. One of its conclusions is that more attention should be paid to country specific constraints and opportunities.