Must ACP states continue to import what they can produce themselves?
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CTA. 1986. Must ACP states continue to import what they can produce themselves?. Spore 5. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/44516
Rural potential to be fully exploited The combined population of the ACP States will double over the next twenty years. How will these nations be able to feed themselves if a substantial part of their food has to be imported, especially as most of...
Rural potential to be fully exploited The combined population of the ACP States will double over the next twenty years. How will these nations be able to feed themselves if a substantial part of their food has to be imported, especially as most of these countries also have to import their energy? This is the real challenge facing ACP countries at the close of this century. The majority of these States do, in fact, have the potential to feed themselves, but in order to do so they will have to exploit their resources to the full. Moreover, they will need the will to do this. To attain food self-sufficiency, a systematic approach to food and nutrition is needed. This is precisely what is intended by the adoption of 'food strategies'. Food strategies are aimed primarily at creating the necessary conditions for small farmers to improve the quantity and quality of their produce. The first step is the adoption of a rigorous economic policy by government. Then all the factors involved in the food production process, from producer to consumer, are carefully identified and considered, and are integrated into a coherent development policy. This is no easy task, as the various factors of development are so interrelated. First a diagnosis has to be made, then a set of goals is decided upon, and finally policies and programmes are defined which will realize these goals within the framework of an overall strategy. The small farmer needs motivation to produce and the assurance that there will be a market for the product. So it is not enough to encourage farmers to increase production. Other complementary measures must also be taken, which may include increasing storage capacity, improving marketing systems, ensuring that inputs are available when they are required, gradually introducing an appropriate system of loan facilities, increasing the use of mechanisation, etc. Pricing policies lie at the heart of the conflict of interest between producers and consumers. There must be a compromise between prices that will stimulate production and prices that are acceptable to the consumer. Marketing policy is often the main obstacle to increased food production and distribution. Generally speaking, state-run organizations have proved incapable of marketing foodstuffs satisfactorily on their own, and are a burden to the nation in terms of the subsidies needed to cover the losses they make. There must be a free market for food, with the proviso that the public sector should not push the private sector out of the market. Parastatal bodies should be set up to monitor the trade in food, in other words to make sure that the price limits set for producers and consumers are actually adhered to. On the other hand, it is the public bodies which are best placed to organize reserve stocks of cereals, which are in themselves one of the best ways of stabilizing pricesand ensuring food security. A consumer policy should be drawn :up which favours the consumption -particularly in towns-of locally processed produce. Such a policy will help create stable outlets for national produce. Increasing production entails a more rational use of available resources in a way that is environmentally sound. It is therefore important to stimulate national research and to establish information on matters such as networks. Technology transfer on matters such as fertilizers, improved seeds and the use of draught animals, is also important. Such technologies should be based on traditional practices, should respond to the needs of small farmers and must be adapted and tested under real working conditions. Finally, it is important to improve the flow of information Management and extension service infrastructures should be made as efficient as possible. This may require modification of certain deeply-rooted structures in the agricultural world: in particular, it will usually mean reform of land ownership and of water resource management. Agricultural producers need easier access to loan and investment facilities. The main obstacles to this are usually the cost of loans, which is prohibitive to the small farmer, and the question of repayments. However both these difficulties can be overcome if loans are made to small-scale village organizations or to cooperatives in which farmers share responsibility. The responsibility of such groups should extend both to obtaining inputs and to providing marketing services. Greater emphasis should be given to integrating food aid into national food strategies, whether this takes the form of measures to support the stabilization of prices, the constitution of strategic reserve stocks, or subsidies to farmers. Nutrition programmes, particularly those concerned with the most vulnerable social groups, should be given their former prominence. They can be carried out within the framework of health and population programmes. The regional dimension of any development project, and especially of any programme concerned with food crops, should be taken into account. At the international level commercial ties should be developed from the secular exchanges which continue to take place, however clandestinely, between most neighbouring African countries. The availability-or non-availability -of reliable statistics often influences not only the formulation of policy but the monitoring of its application. It is therefore essential to support data collection and analysis Once developing nations have themselves defined the policies they choose to follow, good communication and coordination are needed both among potential donors, and between donors and the various official bodies within the recipient country. It is vital to respect the specific needs and conditions of each individual country, because 'progress' follows a different path in each case. A flexible approach, which can be adapted to the needs of each recipient country, is essentially. In 1981, the European Community and its member States decided to support the introduction of food strategies in four ACP countries-Rwanda, Mali, Zambia and Kenya - each one being representative of a group of African States. Four years after the introduction of these strategies, CTA feels it would be interesting to review the experience to date, so that other ACP States which are interested in the concept might benefit from this experience. The information will help them to avoid the mistakes which have been made, and to benefit from the successes. A seminar on this subject will therefore be organised by CTA in collaboration with the Academie Royale des Sciences d'Outre-Mer of Belgium. It will be held in Brussels from 3rd to 7th November 1986. It is hoped that above all the seminar will be practical. The participants will look at how a number of agreed goals can be carried out technically, and how they can be translated into plans of action. This important event will be covered in greater detail in forthcoming issues of 'Spore'.