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close this bookAfrican Agriculture: The Critical Choices (UNU, 1990, 227 pages)
close this folder3. Food self-sufficiency: Crisis of the collective ideology
View the document(introductory text...)
View the documentThe Lagos plan of action: A critique
View the documentWorld bank 'counter-plan'
View the documentThe United Nations' plan (PPERA)
View the documentFood self-sufficiency strategies: Problems of implementation

(introductory text...)

Bernard Founou-Tchuigoua

The 1970s was the decade when the African bourgeoisies became aware of the need to ensure their food self-sufficiency and were faced with the dual risk of the use of the food weapon by the large-surplus countries and precipitous falls in production consequent upon a cycle of drought for example. The embargo on the sale of American wheat to the USSR acted as catalyst. The World Food Conference, whose goal was to de-dramatize the situation, stressed the need for worldwide solidarity on food issues and made symbolic gestures. But gradually the idea came to be accepted that food security in Africa's conditions must be ensured through the development of national food policies. A few countries adopted national plans for food self-sufficiency. Thus, in 1976, faced with the collapse of its agriculture. Nigeria launched a programme with the slogan 'Feed the Nation'. Aid-giving institutions in the states of the Centre became interested in the development of African food agriculture.1 The doctrines and policies of food self-sufficiency were, however, strictly national in character (the struggle for a New International Economic Order, and even the doctrine of Collective Self-reliance, were rather quiet about the area of food and agriculture). But as agriculture deteriorated and the burden of food aid and purchases of food products weighed heavily in the balance of payments, ideas inspired by the theory of unequal development and the need for autocentred development gained ground. According to that theory, development from a peripheral position implies delinking and the development of South-South co-operation; reservations about the concept of autocentred development began to dissolve. In 1980, this shift culminated in the OAU's adoption of the famous Lagos Plan of Action, at the first Economic Summit, for which the realization of food self-sufficiency was the highest priority. Simultaneously, however, the ideological crisis began. It was reflected in 1986 in the same OAU's adoption of the Priority Plan for the Economic Recovery of Africa (PPERA) which is the negation of the principles of the Lagos Plan of Action, in that it gives an excessive place to external aid.2

This chapter is concerned to bring out the meaning and stages of this retreat and to propose an explanation based on the agro-food policies of the capitalist states of the Centre.