Newsletter Dialogue Series. Issue no. 1, Volume X, June 2010

With population growth far exceeding growth in staple food production, and climate change beginning to take its toll, does Africa have the time to rectify the situation?
In many Southern African countries population growth has been slowed by HIV and AIDS related mortality, but so has productivity in agriculture. Poverty and malnutrition continue unabated yet these at the same time hold back agricultural productivity improvements and broader economic recovery, thus condemning the sub-region to a perpetual cycle of poverty, underdevelopment and social and economic deprivation. 

For decades a key barrier to the achievement of a green revolution in Africa, and Southern Africa especially, has remained and still is the unsupportive policy environment. What is urgently needed to break this barrier is known; these are inclusive and broad–based policy reforms that create and provide incentives at every stage of the food value chain to encourage higher investment into the food sector. Yet, the policy formulation culture in many countries remains inhibitive, typically top-down, populist and dominated by the governments and the few literate. Policies are often recycled without sufficient learning from previous policy failures (or successes). This raises the question whether we know how to learn from our own experiences?