The FAO held its 25th Regional Conference for Africa (ARC) in Nairobi from June 16-20, 2008. During the conference, the organization called on African nations to increase agricultural production in response to the current food crisis.
According to FAO Deputy Director Madibo Traoré, certain solutions for meeting this objective do exist, such as modernizing farms and intensifying research efforts. Likewise, improving water management, a key theme of the conference, is a major challenge for facilitating increased agricultural production in Africa.
At the same time, the FAO is recommending accelerating the regional integration process. This would enable bringing an end to the fragmentation of Africa's markets, a situation in which it is impossible to guarantee the profitability of investments in agriculture due to the small size of these markets.
This situation increases food dependency in Africa at a time when agricultural prices are on the rise. The FAO should, therefore, develop inter-African trade through Regional Trade Agreements (RTAs) that, "by creating larger markets, could enable African countries to take advantage of economies of scale and enhance their competiveness while increasing the profitability of investments and, as a result, their ability to attract foreign direct investment (FDI)."
Moreover, putting relatively homogenous production structures into competition in the RTA framework could enable African farmers to develop, which would be impossible in a completely liberalized world.