Towards food security in Africa: Are international private-public initiatives paving the way?

16-10-2017

The rise in global hunger in recent years undermines the perspective of 'zero hunger by 2030' set out in the United Nations Agenda 2030. Africa is particularly affected, with more than a quarter of its population living in a situation of severe food insecurity, and its agriculture suffering from major hindrances to production. Launched in 2012, the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition (NAFSN) is one of the international initiatives that have both raised high expectations and opened up controversy. Bringing together governments from both the North and the South, multinational firms and international agencies, it aims to boost investment in African agriculture so as to increase food security. Improved commercial seeds, use of inorganic fertilisers, infrastructure development and land-administration reforms are among the key elements of the project, underpinned by the use of public-private partnerships. After its first years of implementation, NAFSN proponents praise its market-oriented reforms and investments in the African countries involved. By contrast, its critics say that while paying lip service to smallholders, it serves the interests of corporate farming with no proven impact on food security. In 2016, the European Parliament voiced its concerns, pointing at a number of negative repercussions mainly on small-holders, and calling for a deep revamp of the NAFSN and the European Union (EU) support for agro-ecology based on small-scale farming. This briefing is a follow-up of an EP Library Briefing from October 2013.

The rise in global hunger in recent years undermines the perspective of 'zero hunger by 2030' set out in the United Nations Agenda 2030. Africa is particularly affected, with more than a quarter of its population living in a situation of severe food insecurity, and its agriculture suffering from major hindrances to production. Launched in 2012, the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition (NAFSN) is one of the international initiatives that have both raised high expectations and opened up controversy. Bringing together governments from both the North and the South, multinational firms and international agencies, it aims to boost investment in African agriculture so as to increase food security. Improved commercial seeds, use of inorganic fertilisers, infrastructure development and land-administration reforms are among the key elements of the project, underpinned by the use of public-private partnerships. After its first years of implementation, NAFSN proponents praise its market-oriented reforms and investments in the African countries involved. By contrast, its critics say that while paying lip service to smallholders, it serves the interests of corporate farming with no proven impact on food security. In 2016, the European Parliament voiced its concerns, pointing at a number of negative repercussions mainly on small-holders, and calling for a deep revamp of the NAFSN and the European Union (EU) support for agro-ecology based on small-scale farming. This briefing is a follow-up of an EP Library Briefing from October 2013.