Money Matters - Simplified

Study: Africa capable of feeding itself

Dar ed Salaaam -- If African leaders demonstrate political leadership the continent could both feed itself and become a major agricultural exporter, a study says.

The study, described in a book titled "The New Harvest" by Harvard University professor Calestous Juma, urges African leaders to make agricultural expansion central to all political and economic decision-making, the BBC reported.

The findings are being presented at an informal summit in Tanzania discussing African food security and climate change attended by the presidents of Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.

Leaders need to recognize "agriculture and economy for Africa are one and the same," Juma told the BBC ahead of the meeting.

"It is the responsibility of an African president to modernize the economy and that means essentially starting with the modernization of agriculture," he said.

Food production has stagnated in many parts of Africa despite "abundant" arable land and labor, Juma said.

His study calls for the expansion of basic infrastructure, including new road, irrigation and energy projects.

"You can modernize agriculture in an area by simply building roads, so that you can send in seed and move out produce," he said.

"The ministers for roads are not interested in connecting rural areas, they are mostly interested in connecting urban areas," Juma said.

"It's going to take a president to go in and say I want a link between agricultural transportation and then it will happen."

There is great scope to expand crops traditionally grown in Africa, such as millet, sorghum, cassava or yams, he said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International

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