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Making Agriculture More Impactful for Africans

The UN says the average amount that low- and lower-middle-income countries invest annually in agriculture is $957 billion. So, if agriculture accounts for more than 25% of GDP in some developing countries, employs 63% of the world’s poor people and has the potential to improve food security for 80% of them, then why hasn’t this investment translated into stronger economies and better livelihoods? One of the answers is data. Or the lack of it. Many low-income countries are limited by gaping holes in agricultural and rural data that could inform planning, budgeting and policy making in this vital sector. The scarcity of high-quality, timely agricultural data is directly complicating countries’ plans for economic growth and efforts to reduce poverty. These data gaps take on added significance this year because it is a “super-year” for food systems, a year in which food production, consumption and disposal finally received the requisite global attention as the United Nations convenes the world’s first Food Systems Summit in September. With a view to improving stability and prosperity for people and the planet,  the Summit is a massive undertaking, engaging millions—scientists, farmers, youth, indigenous peoples, researchers, private sector, policy leaders and ministers of agriculture, environment, health, and finance among others.