Cross-posted from the CGIAR's Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security (CCAFS) blog
By Cecilia Schubert

Many of today's young Africans grew up watching their parents sow and dig tirelessly on their farms, using tools that give you a backache just by looking at them.

With this in mind, can we really blame youngsters for not wanting to become smallholder farmers as adults?

The African Growth and Development Policy (AGRODEP) Modeling Consortium recently issued its second annual call for "Gaps in Research" Grants. These grants support research on emerging issues in Africa that have previously received little or no attention. The selected topic of this year’s grant is “Barriers to the expansion of agriculture and agroindustry in Africa”.

Cross-posted from
*By Marcia MacNeil

West Africa is on the cusp: after years of stagnation and decline, the region has seen steady growth for nearly two decades, and is moving from recovery to transformation

Cross-posted from
By Grace Lerner

Nearly 30 years after the 1984 famine that left more than 400,000 people dead, Ethiopia has made significant progress toward food security. Some of these recent successes include a reduction in poverty, an increase in crop yields and availability, and an increase in per capita income—rising in some rural areas by more than 50 percent!

What happened to cause this breakthrough, and what steps does the country need to stay on track?

A new report from IFPRI, WFP, and Egypt's Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) finds that in 2011, food insecurity affected an estimated 17 percent of the population, or 13.7 million people. This number is up from 2009, when 14 percent of the population suffered from food insecurity. Poverty has also risen during this time, with 15 percent of the population moving into poverty between 2009 and 2011.

Fertilizer is a key piece of the puzzle when it comes to improving agricultural yields in developing countries. Despite widespread recognition of fertilizer's importance, however, many African farmers use substantially less fertilizer than their counterparts in Latin America and Asia. A new article in IFPRI's Insights Magazine examines why this is so, and how increasing competition in the global fertilizer market could help close the gap.

After being largely eliminated by structural adjustment programs in the 1980s and 1990s, large-scale input subsidy programs are regaining popularity throughout the developing world, particularly in Africa south of the Sahara. It's estimated that African countries spend, on average, 30 percent of their agriculture budgets on these programs, which aim to increase small farmers' investments in new technologies and increase agricultural production. Despite these programs' widespread use, however, debate abounds about how efficient input subsidy programs actually are.

Cross-posted from the International Food Policy Research Institute
By Sarah Dalane

Ethiopia faces many challenges, but the country is quickly shedding its label as one of the world’s poorest countries, finding itself today among the world’s 10 fastest growing economies. The question now at hand is how to sustain this historic growth, and emerge as a middle-income country by 2025. The Ethiopian government is turning to its leading—but one of its most underperforming— industries for the answer: agriculture.