Insects are often considered a nuisance to human beings and mere pests for crops and animals. Yet this is far from the truth. Insects provide food at low environmental cost, contribute positively to livelihoods, and play a fundamental role in nature. However, these benefits are largely unknown to the public. Contrary to popular belief, insects are not merely “famine foods” eaten in times of food scarcity or when purchasing and harvesting “conventional foods” becomes difficult; many people around the world eat insects out of choice, largely because of the palatability of the insects and their established place in local food cultures.
Arnold van Huis, Joost Van Itterbeeck, Harmke Klunder, Esther Mertens, Afton Halloran,Giulia Muir, and Paul Vantomme
That Africa has become a net importer of food and of agricultural products, despite its vast agricultural potential, is puzzling. Using data mainly for the period 1960-2007, this report seeks to explain Africa’s food-trade deficit since the mid-1970s. The core finding is that population growth, low and stagnating agricultural productivity, policy distortions, weak institutions and poor infrastructure are the main reasons.
Import tariffs and costly import procedures may explain why consumers in the United Republic of Tanzania pay relatively high prices for wheat. Although wheat farmers benefit from higher prices, domestic production has not increased. Indeed, since 2000 domestic wheat production has been able to cover only about 20 per cent of the country’s consumption requirements.
Findings from a recent study conducted by the Monitoring African Food and Agricultural Policies (MAFAP) project suggest that:
Although the government supports cotton farmers by regulating prices, cotton producers in Mozambique receive prices that are lower than international reference prices. Findings from a recent study conducted by the Monitoring African Food and Agricultural Policies (MAFAP) project show that the following measures would improve prices for producers:
- fostering competition along the entire cotton value chain, especially among processing companies (ginners);
- making processing more efficient to increase both the quantity and quality of outputs;
- revising the domestic price fixing system to align producers’ prices with prices in international markets; and
- strengthening the market power of producers, relative to ginners, to improve transparency and equity in cotton market transactions.
Women make essential contributions to agriculture in developing countries, where they constitute approximately 43 percent of the agricultural labor force. However, female farmers typically have lower output per unit of land and are much less likely to be active in commercial farming than their male counterparts. These gender differences in land productivity and participation between male and female farmers are due to gender differences in access to inputs, resources, and services. In this paper, we review the evidence on productivity differences and access to resources. We discuss some of the reasons for these differences, such as differences in property rights, education, control over resources (e.g., land), access to inputs and services (e.g., fertilizer, extension, and credit), and social norms. Although women are less active in commercial farming and are largely excluded from contract farming, they often provide the bulk of wage labor in the nontraditional export sector. In general, gender gaps do not appear to fall systematically with growth, and they appear to rise with GDP per capita and with greater access to resources and inputs. Active policies that support women's access and participation, not just greater overall access, are essential if these gaps are to be closed. The gains in terms of greater productivity of land and overall production are likely to be large.
Andre Croppenstedt, Markus Goldstein and Nina Rosas
Currently sugar cane farmers in the United Republic of Tanzania receive lower prices than they could, despite high domestic demand, because of high processing costs. Tariffs on imported sugar keeps prices high for consumers without boosting prices for farmers. A new policy approach based on liberalized trade and increased competitiveness of sugar processing could lead to higher prices for producers and lower prices for consumers.
Cattle farmers in Burkina Faso receive low prices and have few incentives to increase production and marketing. Cattle producers would receive higher prices if several specific measures, for example increasing export opportunities, were in place.
Rice farmers and traders in Uganda receive higher prices thanks to existing policies. However, rice consumers also pay higher prices since they do not receive subsidies designed to offset high producer prices. FAO/MAFAP analysis suggests that increasing rice production is the key to making rice more affordable for consumers while protecting producers.
Ghana’s dependency on imported rice, and excessive costs and taxes on rice imports, lead to high prices for consumers. However high prices for consumers do not translate into higher prices for farmers.