Sunday, October 22, 2017

Might be hope for Mali

In 2008, as food prices rose around the world, riots broke out in West Africa, and Mali’s government stepped in. It quickly launched an initiative to subsidise purchases of good-quality certified rice seed, as well as fertilisers, for farmers, in an effort to cut reliance on rice imports and grow more food of its own. 
In just two years, the country was producing enough grain for domestic consumption, and today is a rice exporter, said Bourema Dembele, who until July was director of research at Mali’s Institut d’Economie Rurale, a government institutionSuch policies need to be replicated around Africa if the continent is to cope with a burgeoning population and climate change while improving food security and economic growth, African experts say. According to the Africa Agriculture Status Report 2017, if most African governments moved as aggressively as Mali’s, the continent could not only feed itself but meet the growing demand from affluent city dwellers for high-value processed foods.
“Rice is going to be the biggest challenge for Africa because countries highly depend on imports from sources that are totally unsustainable,” William Asiko, the executive director of Grow Africa, a non-governmental organisation, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Agnes Kalibata, Alliance for a Green Revolution Africa's president, said, “If left to the private sector alone, growth in the agrifood system will not be as fast as it could, nor will it benefit as many smallholder farmers and entrepreneurs as it could.” She added, “Africa has the latent natural resources, skills, human and land capacity to tip the balance of payments and move from importer to exporter by eating food made in Africa.” Apart from Mali, African countries that have had significant success moving towards food self-sufficiency include Ethiopia, Rwanda and Burkina Faso, she said.
African nations spend $35 billion each year on food imports, a figure expected to rise to $110 billion by 2025 unless the continent can boost harvests.
In Mali, production of rice grew from just 900,000 tonnes in 2008 – below the domestic consumption of 1.1 million tonnes – to 2.7 million tonnes in 2016, thanks in part to government subsidies of 35 billion CFA francs ($64 million). Rice production is now double the country’s annual consumption. Overall food production – including cereal crops such as sorghum, millet, groundnuts, cowpeas and maize, as well as rice – also increased over the same period from 3.6 million tonnes to 8.7 million tonnes, making the country largely self-sufficient. Poorer or very small-scale farmers also are eligible to buy tractors if they group together to cultivate at least 50 hectares (124 acres) of land with the equipment.
Africa need not be a basket-case economy but could be the basket of a cornucopia. But it will be and is capitalism holing it back. As the article indicated Mali has a food surplus yet Mali Mali is one of the poorest countries in the world, with over half the population living on less than US$ 1.25 a day. Mali’s food security has been rocked in recent years. Mali’s economy relies heavily on agriculture, which employs 90 percent of the country’s rural population. Most of them farm on a subsistence basis with little reinvestment in mechanization. Agriculture is increasingly being affected by climate change; already one of the hottest countries in the world, Mali is now experiencing even higher temperatures, less rainfall and creeping desertification. The northern part of the country, where poverty and food insecurity are widespread, is particularly vulnerable. Mali ranks 176th out of 188 countries on the United Nations Human Development Index for 2015
 The average life expectancy of adults in Mali is 55, due to malnutrition and the lack of access to clean water.  Two-thirds of Mali is desert, meaning that immediately, droughts become a serious issue. With poor soils, millions find it difficult to grow the crops they need and due to low wages, they are unable to buy what their family demands. As a result, malnutrition becomes a leading issue and is the main factor of poverty in Mali.

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