Agriculture is central to fostering economic growth, reducing poverty, and improving food security in the Southern African region. More than 70 percent of the rural population depends on agriculture for their livelihoods, and regional economic growth has been constrained by poor performance in the agriculture sector. Achieving the Millennium Development Goals on poverty in Southern Africa will largely depend on increasing agricultural productivity and trade.
Through Feed the Future, USAID develops trade and technology to:
- Increase access to well-functioning markets
- Improve agricultural productivity
- Increase private investment in agriculture,
- Promote consumption of nutritious foods, and
- Develop policies that support growth in the agricultural sector.
Agricultural Markets and Trade
Increases in agriculture productivity alone will not result in reduced hunger and poverty; effective trade among local, regional and international markets is needed as well. Our programs target key constraints to trade along important transit and development corridors in the region. Through the Southern Africa Trade hub, we are increasing trade within the region and increasing the international competitiveness of local products. To address food security, we focus on key commodities, including maize, soybean, and groundnuts. We are also partnering with South Africa’s Agriculture Business Chamber to leverage South African private sector investments in the region to develop regional agribusinesses.
With changing climates and forecasts for more arid conditions over the long term, sustainable agricultural practices are at the forefront of our regional efforts. We support the development of higher-yielding crops and the adoption of efficient farming practices, such as soil and water management for key food staples.
Agricultural Research and Development
We support research to track trends and progress towards achieving food security and poverty goals in the region, including a monitoring and evaluation system for CAADP objectives. We have also helped national governments develop local research initiatives and institutions, including the Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa.