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FAO Regional Office for Africa
©FAO/Caroline Thomas

This regional initiative is focused 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.

It also aims at creating decent job and entrepreneurship opportunities to young women and men in line with FAO’s Action Plan on “Promoting youth employment and entrepreneurship in agriculture and agribusiness in sub-Saharan Africa”.

Sustainable production intensification and value chain development in Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa is generally characterized by low production and productivity in the agriculture sector and a large number of smallholders whose use of agricultural inputs is minimal. Hence, the tendency is to continue to expand the land area, through encroachment into forests and rangelands, in the hope of increasing production. However, the rangelands are being used by pastoralists that thus lose their grazing grounds. Additionally, low precipitation is a limiting factor for the majority of these smallholders and the majority are focused more on self-consumption than selling into commercial markets.

This situation is further challenged by the rapidly growing and urbanizing population, with the attendant increase in demand for food, which calls for closing the production gap. There is therefore the need for increased production and productivity in the crop, livestock, forestry, aquaculture and fishery sectors to meet the gaps in food supply in most countries in the region. Furthermore, even where the production is available, it is not well linked to food systems that are rapidly transforming in terms of the aggregation and processing of raw agricultural produce, and the marketing and regional trade of food products. This is due to diverse constraints such as inadequate infrastructure, technologies, business skills and enabling business environments. An inclusive and sustainable transformation of the agriculture sector depends on the capacity to generate employment for youth and to engage young men and women as the agro-entrepreneurs of Africa. Given this scenario, through this Regional Initiative, FAO takes a holistic approach to enhanced agricultural diversification, productivity and competitiveness, in a value chain context.

Priority actions

  • Support development of value chains of livestock, crop and aquaculture, including promoting better handling, processing, distribution and access to markets in order to reduce losses and enhance food quality and safety.
  • Support the development of transboundary trade in agricultural products and of management capacities of producer organizations.
  • Facilitate knowledge exchanges on small scale irrigation, climate smart agriculture/conservation agriculture, cassava value chain development and gender mainstreaming.
  • Create and promote integrated innovative practices and use of technologies that increase production and productivity.
  • Foster sharing of knowledge and best practices on innovative and sustainable production systems and inclusive value chain development among countries.