04 June 2008

African Agriculture ~ Promising Opportunities & Developments

I wrote a month ago about Paul Collier on transforming Africa and spotlighted the dialog in the FT both Collier and Martin Wolf had about revolutionizing African agriculture -- see Collier's comments on Martin Wolf's FT article entitled Food crisis is a chance to reform global agriculture.

Along these same lines, yesterday in the FT was Part 2 of a series by Alan Beattie entitled Seeds of Change: Africa seeks to engineer an agricultural revolution giving hard data about the state of African agriculture and covering several interesting elements, including the need for innovations in crop seed, irrigation, transportation, and market-mechanisms. Plus Beattie gives a taste of the debate between those who prioritize helping the small farmholder first versus those who seek to support medium to larger farm enterprises.

And then today, in an FT article entitled Abu Dhabi looks to Sudan for food supply, we see the very exciting investment news that Abu Dhabi's development fund is pouring money into a large-scale 70,000 acre agri-project north of Khartoum in the Sudan, a key state in the MENACA region. The Sudan has an estimated 100 Million acres of agricultural land, of which only 20 Million is being used today, and only 2 Million acres being farmed intensively with irrigation and modern methods. This enormous, supposedly pariah country -- Sudan is as big as Western Europe, but with long-time internal conflicts -- is one of the potential bread-basket countries of Africa. And this will happen when they get their political house in order, welcome in Peacemakers and Peacekeepers for stability and security, attract US$ Billions of investment in infrastructure, irrigation, and more, and generally focus on improving the lives of everyday Sudanese of all backgrounds.

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