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Wrong agricultural development policies have promoted, in Africa for instance, cash crops geared towards export products (e.g. groundnuts, coffee, cocoa, cotton, rubber, etc.); they have been supported by investors or by short-sighted Cooperation policies, as well as by local governments. On the other hand, locally produced food crops have suffered from the dumping prices of foodstuffs and commodities imported from countries where agriculture is heavily subsidized. Consequently local farmers have no incentives to produce more because they are losing markets. Finally changes in food consumption habits, with wheat flour that has become a staple food in African urban areas, have replaced local cereals such as sorghum and millet.

To set up a sustainable food security, it is urgent and necessary to support family agriculture, based on the cultivation of traditional crops. To that end, there are a few prerequisites: the local market should be well analyzed and monitored; the producers should have access to seeds, fertilizers, and to microcredit eventually; farmers should be trained to adopt techniques that preserve soil fertility and other natural resources, and to manage their production units well; commercialization of agricultural produce should be well organized and the added value must be fairly distributed through the whole production and marketing chain. This approach is that of Agrisud, a Non-Governmental Organization working in ten countries in Africa and Asia for over 20 years, and other NGOs. Agrisud's results are promising: 19,500 small enterprises that have been created, have an 85% survival rate after five years.

To rebuild sustainable subsistence agriculture, Agrisud draws the attention of states and donors to the following issues:

  • devote a great part of the aid to the promotion of small agricultural enterprises that aim to meet local food demand;
  • set up the training of farmers in enterprise management and in good agricultural and environmental practices;
  • train local teams (public services and NGOs) that are able to manage the whole entrepreneurial scheme.

Adapted from The Global Food Crisis, Causes. Prospects and Solutions.

A. Guided commentary

  1. What are the causes of global food crisis, according to the text? (2 points)
  2. Explain why promoting cash crop production is bad for Africa, based on the text. (3 points)
  3. What are the consequences of agricultural subsidies given by rich countries? (2 points)
  4. Based on the text, find the remedies to food crisis in the world. (3 points)
  5. What solutions does Agrisud suggest to promote subsistence agriculture? (4 points)

B. Essay

What should a third world country like Burkina Faso lay its emphasis on: Food crop production or cash crop production? Justify your answer. (6 points)

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