Africa is short of food, due particularly to increasing population and under-investment in agriculture and agricultural research. For several reasons farm yields are about one-quarter of the global average. New broad cooperative approaches to the problem have had very encouraging results; Malawi for example has been able to export food to neighbouring countries. Significant factors in this success include comprehensive policy support by governments for farmers, innovative financing arrangements, and institutional innovations that have encouraged small-scale domestic agribusinesses, especially in the supply of good seed and fertiliser. There are further opportunities to build on the resulting expansion of rural economies, for example by new crops and local processing, and to extend these examples to other countries. Increased vigilance is required to maintain farmer access to good farmland, and to anticipate and offset adverse effects of climate change.