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Options for African agriculture in an era of high food and energy prices


  • Peter B. R. Hazell

    Corresponding author
    1. Visiting Professor, Imperial College London, and Professorial Research Associate, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Formerly, director of the Development Strategy and Governance Division, International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, DC, USA
    • Corresponding author. Tel.: 44 (0)1233 713172. E-mail address: (P. B. R. Hazell).

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  • Elmhirst Lecture presented at the 27th International Conference of Agricultural Economists, Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil, August 18–24, 2012.

  • Current address: Fallowfield, Westwell, Ashford, Kent TN25 4LQ, United Kingdom.


In a world of high food and energy prices, Africa has an imperative to do a better job feeding itself and ensuring that its people are food secure. At the same time, there is a new business opportunity to work with the private sector in developing the continent's potential to produce significantly more food, raw materials, and biofuels for regional and world markets. A challenge for African policy makers is to find the right balance between a food security and a business agenda, and to ensure that the business agenda engages with large numbers of small farms. Agricultural development requires many things, but the fundamentals for Africa are developing markets, increasing agricultural productivity, and managing volatility. This cannot happen at sufficient scale and speed without strong public sector leadership, enabling policies and investments, and well-focused implementation strategies.