By Ann Millington
CIUDAD OBREGON, Mexico – Farmers across the globe struggle to produce higher yields per hectare in order to feed the growing world population. But Derek Byerlee, rural strategy adviser and director of the world development report at the World Bank Group and former director of economics at CIMMYT suggests that access, not supply, is the biggest issue.
“A large number of hungry people are actually subsistence farmers,” Byerlee said.
Though the livelihood of small farmers is food, they lack the income to keep enough for their families or buy food on their own in the markets. Their access to nourishment is inconsistent.
Byerlee suggests that instead of sending food aid to reduce the number of impoverished in Africa, there should be an investment in long-term agriculture.
“Nations, governments, and financial institutions have been under-investing in agriculture,” Byerlee said.
Nations must invest in research and trade and begin opening borders to agricultural trade in order to truly benefit countries in Africa.
Byerlee suggests a program similar to the African Growth and Opportunity Act. AGOA allowed duty-free entry for textile manufacturers. The result was booming growth for the textile and apparel industry in Africa.
“Extending that program to African agriculture would certainly be positive for Africa,” Byerlee said.
According to Byerlee, investments in agriculture from the United States have dwindled in previous years and had a brief decline at the World Bank.
Though, the United States’ investment in food aid has also seen a steady decline.