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Awakening Africa's sleeping giant: Prospects for commercial agriculture in the Guinea Savannah zone and beyond

Awakening Africa's sleeping giant

By World Bank
Published by FAO and World Bank
Website: www.worldbank.org/publications
2009, 232pp, ISBN 978 0 82137 941 7(Pb), US$30

Agricultural growth is needed to reduce poverty in Africa. But over the last 30 years the competitiveness of many traditional African export crops, and some food crops, has decreased. By comparing the African Guinea Savannah zone - an area with 400 million hectares of suitable farming land - with the Cerrado region of Brazil and the Northeast region of Thailand, Awakening Africa's sleeping giant explores the feasibility of restoring international competitiveness and growth in African agriculture.

"Opportunities abound for farmers in Africa to regain international competitiveness, especially in light of projected stronger demand in world markets for agricultural commodities over the long term," the book states. "This provides reasons for optimism regarding the future prospects for agriculture as a major source of inclusive growth in many parts of Africa." But success will depend on getting policies right, strengthening institutions and increasing and improving investments in the sector.

In addition to including detailed analysis of the success stories in Thailand and Brazil, Awakening Africa's sleeping giant also reviews past successes and failures of introducing commercial agriculture in Africa, and analyses projected global supply and demand trends for cassava, cotton, maize, soybeans, rice and sugar - internationally traded commodities that are important in the Guinea Savannah zone.

With rapid economic growth, favourable policy environments, improved business climates, increase investment in agriculture and new technologies, the book states that the prospects for commercial agricultural success are as good as, or better than, they were for Brazil and Thailand. But considerable challenges - including tougher international competition, HIV/AIDS, climate change, weak national and donor commitment, and lack of political stability and bureaucratic capacity - will have to be overcome.

Date published: July 2010

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