March 15, 2019

Welcome and introduction remarks by Paul Lubeck, Acting Director of African Studies, Johns Hopkins SAIS
Keynote address by Adesoji Adelaja, John A. Hannah Distinguished Professor in Land Policy, Michigan State University
Discussant Tony Carroll, Vice President, Manchester Trade and Adjunct Professor, Johns Hopkins SAIS

Panel 1:
Sara Berry, Academy Professor and Professor Emeritus, History, Johns Hopkins University
Phillip Van Niekerk, Managing Director, Calabar Consulting LLC
Sarah Lowery, Economist and Public-Private Finance Specialist, USAID

Panel 2:
Michael J. Watts, Emeritus "Class of 1963" Professor of Geography and Development Studies, University of California, Berkeley
Dimieari Von Kemedi, Founder of Alluvial Agriculture
Dickson Effah, Master’s Candidate, Johns Hopkins SAIS

Panel 3:
Matthias Chika Mordi, Chairman, United Capital Africa & Adjunct Professor, Johns Hopkins SAIS
Ridwan Sorunke, Master’s Candidate, Johns Hopkins SAIS
Mvemba Dizolele, Adjunct Professor, Johns Hopkins SAIS
Paul Lubeck, Acting Director of African Studies, Johns Hopkins SAIS

The school’s African Studies program hosted its annual conference examining agricultural investment, landholders and food security in Africa. The conference began with a discussion on the changing politics of land in Africa followed by the dynamics of contract farming on small scale agro-businesses in Africa.

The conference concluded with the experts weighing in on the challenges of food security in northern Nigeria and the institutional challenges affecting agro-financing. Acting Director of African Studies Paul Lubeck highlighted key players in Nigeria who have been successful at building business conglomerates that can significantly improve food security in Nigeria.

The discussion also touched upon digital technologies that are being used to bolster efficiency in agricultural value chains. Ridwan Sorunke, a current student and African Studies concentrator, noted that emerging digital technologies can address the market challenges that limit the growth of the agriculture sector. Some of these challenges facing smallholder farmers include lack of access to finance, lack of direct access to markets, and poor transport infrastructure.

Questions from the audience ranged from government effectiveness in transforming agriculture in Africa to how to work around conflict to create better opportunities for food security.