FAO Regional Office for Africa
©FAO/Caroline Thomas

This regional initiative focuses on sustainable intensification of production and the associated measures needed to address post-production issues, including better handling, processing and distribution, improved food quality and safety, and facilitating access to markets.

An inclusive and sustainable transformation of the food and agriculture sector should be linked with the capacity to generate employment for youth and to engage young men and women as the agro-entrepreneurs of Africa.

Sustainable production intensification and value chain development in Africa

Low level of production and productivity characterizes agriculture in the African region, yet it still constitutes the mainstay of the majority of the population. Where modest increases in production were registered, these were largely achieved by resorting to expanding cultivated area, through encroachment into forests and rangelands, instead of improved yields through sustainable intensification. Often, such an encroachment becomes a source of conflict and instability among farming and pastoralist communities. Post-harvest losses are staggeringly high. 

Further, the sluggish agricultural growth has not created sufficient decent jobs in rural areas. As a result, the rate of decline in extreme poverty has been slow in Africa, with women and young people particularly being the unwitting victims. The majority of young people in Africa are increasingly disinclined to work in agriculture and stay in rural areas. Hence, despite its huge potential, agriculture’s contribution to poverty reduction has been low – with direct implications for youth employment, gender equality and transformation of the agri-food systems. 

Migration, which in Africa has largely been an intra-regional phenomenon, has contributed to the rapid urbanization but without the requisite economic transformation taking place that can create and expand decent jobs. On the other hand, the rapidly growing and urbanizing population has created huge demand for processed food, necessitating transformation of food systems. 

An inclusive and sustainable transformation of the food and agriculture sector should be linked with the capacity to generate employment for youth and to engage young men and women as the agro-entrepreneurs of Africa. This Regional Initiative takes a holistic approach to enhanced agricultural diversification, productivity and competitiveness, in an inclusive value chain context.


  • Improved resource governance and administration (land, fisheries, forests) through application of VGGT tools in M&E (Angola, Côte d’Ivoire, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, South Sudan, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, and Zambia) which has demonstrated effectiveness to serve as an instrument in conflicts resolution and management where they have been applied (e.g., Cote d’Ivoire, DRC and South Sudan), and in the customization of Solutions for Open Land Administration for use in registration of land rights to help protect tenure rights (Angola). 

  • Improved forestry management, focussing on integrating forests into the national climate change strategies for addressing SDGs (CAR, DRC, and Sao Tome and Principe), implementing the Convergence Plan for the sustainable management and utilization of forest ecosystems by supporting formulation of National Forest Investment Plan in ECOWAS member countries. Supported countries (Burkina Faso, Niger) in accessing funds related to AFR100 and forest restoration. Supported more than 20 countries in the development of climate change related project ideas and/or concept notes for possible consideration by the Green Climate Fund.  
  • Sustainable production of rice has been promoted through strengthening the capacity of 11 countries on improved methods and applications on rice breeding and agribusiness in rice value chain, supporting seed producers in countries (Benin, Cameroon, Guinea, Nigeria and Tanzania).  Inclusive and integrated approaches to institutional innovations applied to group dynamics aimed at  improvement of small holder farmers’ liquidity constraints through village level saving have enabled them, particularly women farmers in countries such as Ghana to facilitate access to land and sustainably intensify their production and improve their incomes.

  • Supported creation of an enabling environment for sustainable small-scale enterprise development through agribusiness PPPs (in Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, and Zambia); strengthened capacities on Inclusive Business Model (IBM) approaches (Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon and Ghana), which provided guidance and tools on integrating smallholders into modern agricultural value chains. Over a hundred small and medium agro-enterprises (SMAEs) operators across the African continent have been trained in agribusiness and entrepreneurship, with priority given to youth and women. Some of the SMAEs have been selected for a follow-on mentorship programme.

  • Improved fish culture and processing, such as improved smoking kilns (in Guinea Bissau, Ghana, The Gambia, Nigeria, Senegal) leading to increased job creation, improved food quality and better incomes for women and the youth while reducing their exposure to health hazards. Improved reliability of data and analysis on fish health was achieved through introduction of mobile phone and tablet technology in the routine data collection in artisanal marine fisheries.  Regional fisheries bodies were supported for them to provide effective coordination and harmonisation roles to their member countries. 

Way forward:

In 2018-19, the Regional Initiative will focus on strengthening  sustainable food and agriculture systems,  post-harvest management and inclusive value-chain development through promoting public-private partnerships, and supporting judicious management and utilisation of natural resources.

The Initiative will also be focussed on supporting countries in the integration of SDGs and climate actions, as well as themes of decent youth employment and migration in their national policies and development plans, .