Will growing more export commodities promote or weaken food security?

Gepubliceerd op
24 juli 2013

How can the production of agricultural export commodities contribute to local, national and regional food security in Africa? LEI Wageningen UR just started a new research to answer this question commissioned by the ministry of Economic Affairs.

Dutch food and beverage industries are actively pursuing a policy towards sourcing more sustainable tropical commodities, such as fruit, nuts, spices, coffee, fats and oils. This policy of corporate responsibility in the value chain – also seen for fish, flower and cotton imports – can also strengthen food security and tackle potential risks of malnutrition.

Africa’s export crops bring in sufficient revenues to finance food imports like wheat and maize, even in times of high food prices. Also, farming communities and rural economies often benefit from the connection to global and regional markets, which raises income and creates employment.

However, export agriculture in Africa is at the same time accused of depleting soils and degrading forests, and excluding vulnerable communities from land assets and opportunities to earn an income or sustain food needs in the household.

LEI will review the balance of benefits and risks in relation to food and nutrition security at various levels. The starting point of this study is the idea that agricultural export commodities generate income, and therefore improve access to food for those who earn that income. If so, how and to what extent this positive relationship between these commodities and food security is challenged, is the subject of this research.