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Alternative Development Strategies in Africa - Feeding the Farmers First

  • New International Book Shop New International Bookshop, 54 Victoria Street (map)

Terry Leahy will give a talk about his recently released book Food Security for Rural Africa: Feeding the Farmers First.

At least fifty years of projects aimed at the rural poor in Africa have had very little impact. Up to half of the children of these countries are still suffering from stunting and malnutrition. Soil degradation and poor crop yields are ubiquitous. Projects are almost always aimed at helping local people to solve their problems by growing for the market. In some countries, projects link poor villagers into cooperatives to produce a commercial output. In other countries, projects target more competent entrepreneurial villagers. Almost all these projects fail after several years. Even those that are successful make few inroads into the problems.

The slogan 'feeding the farmers first' is particularly applicable to much of Africa. Customary tenure land ownership means that most of the rural poor have access to some land to grow food. Household food security can come from household production. Focusing on particular people and projects, the book gives a sociological analysis of why this is so difficult to manage, and how the problems can be managed. This book challenges the models promoted by academics in the field of development studies and argues against the strategies adopted by most donor organizations and government bodies. It explains why commercial projects have been so ubiquitous even though they rarely work. It gives practical tips on how to set up villages and farms to achieve sustainable solutions that also provide plenty of nutritious food. The book is written to be accessible and engaging. For anyone planning to work in the rural areas of Africa, this book is required reading.

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