The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) consecrated the year 2015 as the International Year of Soils (IYS). Therefore, it has been a year intended to raise the consciousness of humanity about the importance of this resource (soil) and the need to preserve it to ensure sustainable and shared prosperity. The various stakeholders in the management and use of this resource, particularly those of the agricultural sector have been called to enhance their consideration of this fragile and threatened resource, to reverse the degradation trend by placing its management and use in a sustainable approach. The international community has reaffirmed its commitment to protect this resource through targets 2.4 and 15.3 of the sustainable development objectives adopted in 2015.
Q: The U.S. Federal Reserve on Dec. 16 raised interest rates, ending what Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen called an “extraordinary seven-year period” during which policymakers kept the federal funds rate near zero in an effort to support the economy. How will the Fed’s action affect Latin American economies, many of which are struggling with anemic growth and low prices for their commodity exports? How will the interest rate hike affect Latin American countries’ ability to pay off their dollar-denominated debt? Which nations are most at risk, and which countries in the region might see any benefi t from the U.S. interest rate hike?
The expression “green revolution” is controversial today; yet my own assessment is that, in spite of many valid criticisms, the Green Revolution was a major achievement for humankind: it made erroneous the Malthusian predictions of the 1960s and 70s that it would be impossible to provide enough food for a rapidly growing world population and that major humanitarian crises, including famines, would occur in several countries within a few years, particularly in South Asia. In a wider Atlantic perspective, the need for a new green revolution is particularly obvious in Africa today, as revealed by an examination of past trends for agricultural production and trade flows: Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and the West Asia/North Africa region (WANA) show a large and growing net agricultural trade deficit. And all projection and prospective analyses suggest that this deficit will continue to grow. Yet, total rural population will also continue to expand making it impossible for these two large regions to follow the agricultural modernization path, through substitution of capital for labor, which other regions of the world have gone through, or are currently going through.
The economic growth of the African continent and its positioning as an emerging force is a reality no longer questioned. Optimism surrounding the Africa rising narrative is supported by a growing young workforce, an expanding middle class, new discoveries of natural resources and minerals, relative political stability and infrastructure developments. Economic and international financial actors now recognize the potential that the continent represents for the world economy, consider diligently taking part in this process, and hope to benefit from it.