Food Security

Click here for a detailed report of our programme activities in 2012.

Francesco food security ecdpm 2013
The challenge

Food insecurity still affects around one billion people worldwide. The looming threat of another global food price crisis, with devastating consequences for food insecure countries and regions has galvanised the attention of the international community in recent years. Africa faces a particular situation: it has become a net importer of food and can’t feed its own people, but has the potential to be the world’s food basket. As a result, governments and development partners have adopted a number of initiatives to improve food security in Africa, while international factors like shortage of available land elsewhere are making Africa’s agricultural sector the target of increasing investments. As developing countries’ leaders have acknowledged several times, achieving food security is first and foremost about political leadership to mobilise, and where necessary to develop the necessary resources and capabilities. With the bulk of food production, processing and marketing being in the hands of smallholder farmers and local small and medium-sized businesses of whom the bulk are women, this means investing in domestic entrepreneurship and building the capacity to respond effectively to development challenges.

ECDPM’s role

Given national markets and institutions are too small to bring about the required transformation in the agriculture sector, ECDPM’s Food Security programme supports regional actors and institutions in Africa, Caribbean and Pacific to design and implement regional policy frameworks to strengthen their contribution to food security. We also assist international development partners, in particular the EU, to adopt coherent and effective cooperation approaches that foster thriving agriculture markets and promote food security. At the request of our partners, we are increasingly focusing our efforts on providing timely analysis and support to policy dialogues to enhance the implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) at regional level. Specific areas of support include exploring ways to enhance synergies for food security by creating stronger linkages between trade and agricultural development as well as public, private and civil society actors.

Key partners

In 2012 we continued to build and strengthen partnerships with a broad range of stakeholders, including African governments and their regional organisations, farmers’ organisations, research institutes and development partners. At the continental level we worked closely with the African Union Commission and the NEPAD Planning and Coordination Agency, the technical and implementation arm of the African Union. We also collaborated with the six Regional Economic Communities implementing the CAADP (COMESA, EAC, ECCAS, ECOWAS, SADC, IGAD) as well as the main regional farmers organisations, namely; the East African Farmers Federation (EAFF); Réseau des Organisations Paysannes et de Producteurs de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (ROPPA); the Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU) and Platforme sous-Régionale des Organisations Paysannes d'Afrique Centrale (PROPAC). Our European and international partners included EU institutions and member states, the World Bank, African Development Bank and the Global Donor Platform for Rural Development. We also collaborated with United Nations entities such as the Global Mechanism for the UN Convention to Combat Diversification, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and UNDP’s Africa Facility for Inclusive Markets. We also enhanced linkages with leading research networks and centres of excellence in Africa and beyond, including the Food Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN), Sokoine University of Agriculture in Tanzania and the Brookings Institution in the USA.

In our research and policy analysis work we collaborated closely with a number of think tanks and research networks focusing on EU-Africa relations and the BRICs countries. Among these were the European Think Tanks Group (a partnership with the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), UK, the German Development Institute (DIE-GDI) and the Madrid-based FRIDE); the South African based Institute of Strategic Studies and South African Institute of International Affairs; and the Europe-Africa Policy Research Network (EARN). We also developed a new partnership with the Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS). 

Highlights of our activities in 2012

  • Our work led to increased awareness of the need for better coordination between trade and agriculture policies and programmes in Africa, which culminated in the first ever joint conference of AU Ministers of agriculture and trade and the launching of the CAADP Joint Action Group on Regional Trade and Infrastructure.
  • We contributed to relevant policy processes, including CAADP, seeking to promote trade and agriculture for inclusive growth in the different regional economic communities. Our work helped to clarify, among other issues, the linkages between different sectors and strategies for increased public-private collaborations for development. We also contributed ideas on how to enhance the effectiveness of regional integration in Africa and how to ensure greater involvement of farmers’ organisations in regional CAADP processes.
  • We contributed to the tailoring of agriculture and trade policies for development in several EU Member States to encourage better synergies and coordination in furthering the objectives of CAADP. Our overall aim in this was to contribute to policy coherence for development and the scaling up of public-private partnerships for food security that are aligned to regional policy priorities. 

Click here for a detailed report of our programme activities in 2012.

 Key Outputs in 2012

  • We published five discussion papers on the CAADP processes under way: in COMESA (East and Southern Africa), ECOWAS (West Africa), IGAD (Horn of Africa), EAC (Eastern Africa) and SADC (Southern Africa). These analysed bottlenecks and opportunities for regional food security policies and investments, and synergies with other areas of regional cooperation (e.g., trade, infrastructure and natural resources management). In Southern Africa, we undertook a joint study with FANRPAN on the role of regional corridors in solving market integration constraints and enhancing opportunities for smallholders. 
  • ECDPM and the Eastern Africa Farmers Federation launched a study on business services and market information to facilitate farmers’ access to regional markets. Another study looked at the role and impact of emerging economies in agriculture and food security in Africa. 
  • We analysed institutional options for monitoring the effects of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy on developing countries.
  • To help advance the CAADP regional compact ‘roadmaps’, we made presentations and facilitated workshops on smallholder farmers’ engagement in regional policymaking and implementation.
  • A highlight of the year was ECDPM’s participation at the first-ever AU Joint Conference of Ministers of Agriculture and Trade, where we presented various findings.
  • We supported the African Union in establishing a platform for dialogue involving regional institutions, civil society, farmers and development partners, for the bridging of food security, trade and infrastructure sectors.