Coffee beans

Public-private partnerships to transform African agriculture

Oslo, February 01, 2013
A report published by the Economist Intelligence Unit outlines the relevance of public-private partnerships (PPPs) in transforming rural Africa from being the begging bowl to the breadbasket of the world.
Harbour in Ghana

The report, titled “Transforming African Agriculture – the growing importance of unusual public-private partnerships”, shows how governments, private sector,  donors and farmer organizations are working together to increase investment, productivity and sustainability in African agriculture.

Africa is the last significant emerging market region. Its population is set to double to 2 billion by 2050, and the crop yield on used land in Sub-Saharan Africa is the world’s lowest, at only 27% of potential yield, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Agricultural corridors

The report shows some of the first outcomes of the partnerships, such as the agricultural corridors. Created by countries like Tanzania, Mozambique and Burkina Faso, the corridors connect distant food-producing areas with ports and cities and ensure that the infrastructure is there to bring in large-scale investment.

“Tanzania, for example, has created the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor (SAGCOT), which combines the Tanzanian Government, farmer organizations, international and domestic companies and development organizations in a 20-year program to invest $3bn-plus in infrastructure, create 420,000 rural jobs and produce enough food to export to the region and around the world,” says the report.

“Yara is a leader in SAGCOT, being one of the first private companies in the initiative to invest in both assets and resources," says Jørgen Ole Haslestad, President and Chief Executive Officer of Yara.  In 2012, Yara started building its USD 20 million terminal in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and it is scheduled for completion in 2013.

Agricultural partnerships have the potential not only to raise productivity, bring food security and lift rural people out of poverty, but also to act as “a catalyst for broader rural development – creating jobs outside of farming in both service and production sectors,” states the report.  

The report ends by stressing that agricultural partnerships are facing constraints that hold back the entire African economy, such as lack of power and transport infrastructure and access to technology.  “With so many of the barriers non-agricultural in nature, these unusual partnerships, if successful, could go beyond transforming agriculture to transform Africa – sustainably.”

On January 30th, Haslestad spoke on stage at the Economist's Feeding the World conference, in Amsterdam, about how the partnership approach can help bring about these changes.

The report was sponsored by Yara. Download the report by clicking on the link to the right.

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