Population People

Posted April 2000

AIDS and agriculture in Africa: can agricultural policy make a difference?1

Jacques du Guerny
Population Programme Service (SDWP)
FAO Women and Population Division

While there are many dimensions to the AIDS pandemic, FAO has focused on the impact of the disease on agricultural production and household food security. This article presents a framework for analysing the problems and highlights key effects on farm households and larger production units. HIV/AIDS depletes both human resources and capital, leading to a reduction in land area cultivated, changes in crop patterns and declines in yields. Reduction in the formal and informal training of children and changing migration patterns can have negative consequences for development.

Agricultural policies attempt to influence yields, commercial crop outputs, etc. Whether such policies can affect the spread and level of the HIV/AIDS pandemic or mitigate its impact have not been explored. The agriculture and health sectors need to become aware of the impact of the pandemic on production, food security and institutions. They also need to recognize that there already exist a number of policy and programme tools that could be effective in reducing the vulnerability of rural populations to HIV/AIDS. At this stage, the most effective policy and programme instruments available need to be explored systematically. Efforts to mobilize agricultural institutions, both public and private, are worthwhile in the face of the present and potential damage of the pandemic. Reducing vulnerability influences the risks, but does not eliminate them. Policies to reduce vulnerability would not replace risk reduction ones, but should create positive synergies.

Go to complete article: html file / pdf file (89k)

1Reprinted from Food, Nutrition and Agriculture , No. 25, 1999 (p. 12-17).

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