Lifting barriers could unlock Africa food trade: World Bank
25 October 2012
(Reuters) - Africa could avoid food shortages if it reduces the tangled web of rules, fees and high costs strangling regional food trade and by putting large swathes of uncultivated land to productive use, a World Bank report said on Wednesday.
Just 5 percent of Africa's cereal imports are now provided by African farmers, according to the report released on the eve of an African Union summit on agriculture and trade in Ethiopia.
"Too often borders get in the way of getting food to homes and communities which are struggling with too little to eat," said Makhtar Diop, World Bank vice president for Africa.
The bank estimated that 19 million people are in danger of hunger and malnutrition in West Africa's Sahel region. Yet, removing cross-border restrictions could help avoid food crises if farmers were allowed to trade more easily with each other and get food to communities facing shortages.