africa Agriculture commodities export import Trade

Opinion: The consequences of Africa’s careless agricultural trade

Approximate reading time: 2 minutes

The State of Agricultural Commodity Markets report released by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) discusses unchartered territory that has potential ramifications for Sub Sahara in the long run.

The report outlined the relationship between climate change, trade flows and food security. It was divided into six sections outlining the historic trends of the agricultural commodity markets and potential solutions which mainly involved the Paris Accord and WTO.

A major point discussed in the report was that the impact of climate change on the agricultural commodity markets would have both winners and losers. For Developing Countries, the trends have potential long run implications since the main beneficiaries in this area are expected to be Developed Countries which should be alarming for African Leaders. Countries such as Mozambique, with Gross Domestic Product which rely on agriculture for income, would face fiscal problems. Thus, would have a knock-on effect on employment rates.

The data between 2000 and 2013 showed developing countries were increasingly importing food to meet domestic demand. A shortfall has resulted in total food consumed. The graphic below from the report illustrates that.

Early 2000s Sub-Sahara had a net agricultural trade surplus. However, since 2005, there has been a decline in exports leading to more imports. Productivity and technology advanced in Developed countries which has made agricultural exports more competitive.

Using some of the data above, FAO predicted a further increase in imports by 2050. The models assume countries do not make significant changes. The FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva argued that, to prevent economic and food security gaps between developed and developing countries from widening even further, “we must ensure that the evolution and expansion of agricultural trade is equitable and works for the elimination of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition.”

Therefore, current and future African leaders must pay close attention to the developments of climate change and the impact it has on agricultural commodities. The UN also expects African population to increase which means implementation of solutions to combat future food security and employment are need urgently since this is an area which Sub-Sahara had a comparative advantage.

You can view the complete FAO report in this link

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