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Sleeping Giant workshop

AWAKENING21-22 June 2010

FAC and its partner SOAS (Faculty of Law and Social Sciences) convened an international workshop to critically assess the prospects for dramatically expanding internationally competitive agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa, with a particular focus on the Guinea Savannah agro-ecological zone.


Awakening Africa's Sleeping Giant' explores the feasibility of restoring international competitiveness and growth in African agriculture through the identification of products and production systems that can underpin rapid development of a competitive commercial agriculture.


Based on a careful examination of the factors that contributed to the successes achieved in Brazil and Thailand, as well as comparative analysis of evidence obtained through detailed case studies of three African countries - Mozambique, Nigeria, and Zambia - the authors argue that opportunities abound for farmers in Africa to regain international competitiveness, especially in light of projected stronger world markets for agricultural commodities over the long term. This provides reasons for optimism regarding the future prospects for agriculture as a major source of inclusive growth in many parts of Africa.

Awakening Africa's Sleeping Giant - workshop invitation (102.36 kB)

Awakening Africa’s Sleeping Giant: Agricultural Development in the Guinea Savannah

By Ian Scoones, FAC Co-coordinator

A fascinating FAC workshop has just finished hosted by FAC partner, SOAS, focusing on the World Bank’s Awakening Africa’s Sleeping Giant report. This argues that a huge area, defined as the ‘Guinea savannah’, stretching across West Africa and with a second belt in southern Africa offers huge potential for a new era of commercial agriculture in Africa, sufficient to supply growing domestic, regional and global markets. The report offers two models for agricultural development of this area – the Brazilian cerrado, focusing on large-scale commercial operations, and northeast Thailand, where a smallholder led revolution took place.

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Can Africa’s Guinea Savannah feed the continent and beyond?

Hans Binswanger-Mkhize

With continuing strong world prices for agricultural commodities, agriculture researchers met recently in London to examine how African farmers might boost commercial production of crops such as rice and cotton. The workshop goal was to critically examining a recent study from the World Bank and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) that concludes that up to 400 million hectares of African savannah are available for agricultural production, with the potential to make Africa an important competitor on global markets. At present, only about 10% of the 600 million hectares of the savannah is under production. Read about this workshop

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WHERE: School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) Russell Square, London


The Russell Square campus is in historic Bloomsbury, an area of leafy squares well-known as a haven from the bustle of the city, and also an intellectual centre. The exhibition spaces of the Brunei Gallery and the Foyle Special Collections Gallery are both to be found in the Brunei Gallery Building opposite the main college building. Other colleges of the University of London, the British Museum and the British Library are just a few minutes away.