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After being largely eliminated by structural adjustment programs in the 1980s and 1990s, large-scale input subsidy programs are regaining popularity throughout the developing world, particularly in Africa south of the Sahara. It's estimated that African countries spend, on average, 30 percent of their agriculture budgets on these programs, which aim to increase small farmers' investments in new technologies and increase agricultural production. Despite these programs' widespread use, however, debate abounds about how efficient input subsidy programs actually are.
May 25 marks Africa Day, the annual commemoration of the founding of the Organization of African Unity (now recognized as the Africa Union) in 1963. The annual celebration honors ongoing efforts to address inequality, poverty, and conflict in the region. The theme of Africa Day 2012 is "Towards the Realisation of a United and Integrated Africa and Its Diaspora," calling for unity among all Africans in working for greater political and economic development. The next AU Summit will be held in Malawi in July, at which time the AU Chairperson will be elected.
FEWS NET has released its monthly price watch for February 2012. The report cites stable and declining grain prices in much of West and East Africa, although prices remain high in the Sahel region and Kenya. In particular, grain prices in South Sudan remain very high due to poor production and trade; similarly, maize prices in Malawi continue to increase rapidly. Afghanistan and Tajikistan continue to see high wheat and wheat flour prices.
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