Agriculture: Future Scenarios for Southern Africa - Ensuring Food Security through Trade Policy

By Hilton E. Zunckel on March 12, 2009

The briefing contextualizes the global debate on food security and trade policy instruments, defining the situation in Southern African Development Community (SADC) in particular. The purpose of the briefing is to outline broad impacts that global scenarios bring to bear on staple foods, consumed, whether grown in, imported into or exported from the region and will serves as a base for four country briefings and regional scenarios report.

Key findings:

  • Cutting trade distorting agricultural subsidies in a substantial way and import tariffs on agricultural products can contribute to a better connection between supply and demand for food and feeds, stabilizing prices and creating incentives for boosting farm production in Africa.

  • The argument for supporting agricultural subsidies in developed countries specifically as a way of ensuring continued food supplies to poor countries is weak because sound economics indicates that equally important to access to food is the domestic capability of Africa's large rural population to produce food because it is a catalyst for positive gains from trade and contributes to national employment.

  • There is great pressure on African governments to release land to commercial producers, both domestic and foreign, for food and biofuels production which creates substantial political challenges regarding land control and ownership not mention the strain that this will have on commodity feed stocks.

Key recommendations:

  • Policy measures in the short term include the provision of safety nets and social protection to the most vulnerable consumers both in rural and urban areas.

  • Improved trade policies can yield important gains, using the existing and emerging WTO rules.

  • It is important to address the fundamentals that increase investment in agriculture, both public and private, and improve the functioning of markets.

Report details

IISD, 2009