Despite recent improvements in productivity, cereal yields and per capita food production in Africa remain among the lowest in the world, with yields per hectare for food crops less than half the level in developing countries as a whole. Fertiliser use is extremely low, and while irrigation has slowly increased, some 97% of agricultural land in sub-Saharan Africa is rainfed, raising concerns of vulnerability to climate change. Food security is low, with the share of undernourished people in the region standing at 32%, and the majority of countries remain off-track towards achieving Millennium Development Goal 1 (MDG).
Africa’s trade performance has improved recently, with commodity exports increasing in volume at an average of 13 % since 2001 - from 4.8 % to 5.4 % over the same period in terms of share. However despite this progress, Africa’s share of global trade still remains low, hindered by market access and supply-side constraints such as weak infrastructure.
Africa’s 2003 Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) lays out the framework for agricultural development, building on the 2001 New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) founding statement that identified agriculture as a sector priority. Calling for 6% agricultural growth rates, it lay down specific objectives for countries to follow. The 2003 Maputo Declaration further committed African leaders to allocate at least 10 per cent of public expenditure on agriculture and rural development within 5 years. In 2004 the Sirte Declaration on Agriculture and Water reiterated the commitment to expedite both the implementation of NEPAD programmes in the field of agriculture and water and the implementation of the Maputo Declaration. The 2006 Abuja Fertiliser Summit adopted a number of resolutions to promote the supply and use of fertilizers by Africa farmers, with the explicit objective to raise the level of fertilizer use from the current average of 8 kilograms to at least 50 kilograms per hectare by 2015. Later in the same year, the Abuja Food Security Summit reaffirmed commitments made in Maputo in 2003 and further committed African Heads of State and Government to increase intra-African trade and accelerate the development of strategic commodities.
Successive G8 summits from Kananaskis in 2002 onwards have pledged support to the CAADP and agricultural development. The Hokkaido Statement on Global Food Security (2008) recognised and pledged to reverse overall declines of aid and investment in the agricultural sector, with a particular focus on Africa.This sentiment was made considerably more substantial in the 2009 L’Aquila Statement on Global Food Security, resulting in a pledge of $20 billion over three years for investment in sustainable agriculture in countries of particular need – notably Africa.
The World Food Summit in 2002 adopted a declaration calling on the international community to cut the number of hungry people to about 400 million by 2015. The Declaration adopted at the 2008 High-Level Conference on World Food Security committed Heads of State and Government to a number of measures to address the challenges of higher food prices including providing balance of payment support, increasing investment in agriculture, and addressing obstacles to food access.The 2009 FAO World Summit on Food Security reiterated financial commitments made at L’Aquila, and laid out a map of 5 principles for sustainable food security, each backed by a series of commitments.
In the area of trade, the 2001 Doha Ministerial Declaration saw World Trade Organisation (WTO) members commit themselves to comprehensive negotiations on agriculture aimed at substantial improvements in market access, and reductions of all forms of export subsidies and trade distorting domestic support. Subsequent commitments were made to eliminate all forms of export subsidies for cotton by 2006, and to reduce trade-distorting subsidies for cotton production emerging from the 2005 Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration.