News story

Food: Britain to help Africa on supply and nutrition

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Britain will improve food supply and farming across Africa to help pull 50 million people out of chronic poverty over the next ten years in conjunction with the private sector

Britain will improve food supply and farming across Africa to help pull 50 million people out of chronic poverty over the next ten years in conjunction with the private sector, International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell announced today.

The UK will join G8 nations, African countries, aid agencies and 45 leading multinational and African companies in a new alliance to help millions of African farmers boost their productivity and help poor farmers produce more reliable crops and healthier livestock.

Announced in Washington ahead of the G8 leaders’ meeting, the New Alliance for Food and Nutrition Security is expected to increase average agriculture sector growth rates by 1.5 per cent per year over 10 years across sub-Saharan Africa.

Britain’s contribution will include the first ever support to the World Bank’s Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme (GAFSP) fund helping it to expand agricultural investment in low-income countries.

Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell said:

“It is shameful that one in three people in Africa go to bed desperately hungry every night. Hunger is directly linked to poverty, so farmers need investment and support if they are to grow more nutritious food and escape the threat of harvest failure.

“Governments cannot tackle this challenge alone. The skills, resources and financial expertise of leading private businesses will help transform African agriculture, giving poor farmers the chance to pull themselves out of poverty, hunger and malnutrition.”

The New Alliance will increase:

  • Support for agricultural reform: This fund will help poor countries to improve their agriculture, for example by linking smallholder farmers to markets through investment in rural roads.
  • Private investment: African farmers are often starved of the investment and resources they need to grow and develop. 45 leading private companies, including British businesses Diageo, Unilever, and Vodafone will invest over $3 billion in developing African agriculture and sign up to a new code of responsible investment.
  • Innovative technology: Drive more private and public investment into researching and implementing new agricultural technology. This will give farmers access to the latest drought-resistant and nutritionally-fortified seeds to boost crop yields.
  • Insurance: Extend agricultural insurance services to poor African farmers to help protect them from future droughts, crop failures or other catastrophes.
  • Stimulate investment: Set up a new ‘Agricultural Index’ to help private companies to better understand the local investment climate and make it easier for them to invest.

The New Alliance for Food and Nutrition Security will build on the previous international agreement made at L’Aquila in 2009 by stimulating growth in African agriculture by providing technical and financial support to help develop farming and agriculture. This will drive private investment and make it easier to invest responsibly in the food and agriculture sectors.

70 per cent of African people are engaged in agriculture, yet across Sub Saharan Africa farmers are struggling to meet local and regional demands for food and only four per cent of arable land is irrigated. Improving farming methods, increasing irrigation and boosting trade links could have an immediate affect on food shortages, levels of chronic hunger and the incomes of farming families.

The UK has already been instrumental in tackling global hunger. By 2015, the UK’s African Free Trade Initiative will cut border crossing times in Eastern and Southern Africa by a third. This will increase cross-border food trade in staples such as maize by 15 per cent, making food more readily available and helping farmers increase their profits.