Here’s why food is critical to Africa’s transformation

September 7, 2017
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“Agriculture will be Africa’s quiet revolution, with a focus on SMEs and smallholder farmers creating the high productivity jobs and sustainable economic growth that failed to materialise from mineral deposits and increased urbanisation,” reads the report/CFM

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 7 – Africa’s food market may be worth more than US$1 trillion each year by 2030, according to the latest Africa Agriculture Status Report.

This will be largely driven by entrepreneurs and the free market that is driving the continent’s economic growth from food production, as well as businesses waking up to opportunities of a rapidly growing food market.

Overview

AARS' top 5 recommendations from their 2017 report

  1. Governments need to increase their investments in agriculture and rural infrastructure in line with their 10 per cent CAADP commitment.
  2. Governments should take a holistic approach to improving the business environment for the entire agrifood system, from farm to fork.
  3. Smallholder farmers need to be better organised to link to modern value chains.
  4. Governments need to support the financial sector to meet the unserved financial needs of commercially oriented small farms and food producing SMEs.
  5. Legislation and regulations that boost regional trade in agricultural products will make a significant contribution to the growth of Africa’s food production sector and have a tangible impact on reducing poverty.

“Agriculture will be Africa’s quiet revolution, with a focus on SMEs and smallholder farmers creating the high productivity jobs and sustainable economic growth that failed to materialise from mineral deposits and increased urbanisation,” reads the report.

A lack of proper investment into food system has resulted in 37 per cent of the African population to live in urban centres, where most jobs have been created in lower paid, less productive services. The report recommends that if food systems are planned correctly, the picture could dramatically change.

“Africa has the latent natural resources, skills, human and land capacity to tip the balance of payments and move from importer to exporter by eating food made in Africa. This report shows us that agriculture involving an inclusive transformation that goes beyond the farm to agri-businesses will be Africa’s surest and fastest path to that new level of prosperity,” AGRA President Dr Agnes Kalibata said during the launch of the report.

The report highlights the opportunity for Africa to feed the continent with food made in Africa/CFM

– What needs to be done? –

To succeed, the report also recommends for Africa’s agricultural revolution to be very different to those seen in the rest of world.

“It requires an inclusive approach that links millions of small farms to agribusinesses, creating extended food supply chains and employment opportunities for millions including those that will transition from farming. This is in contrast to the model often seen elsewhere in the world of moving to large scale commercial farming and food processing, which employs relatively few people and requires high levels of capital.”

The report highlights the opportunity for Africa to feed the continent with food made in Africa that meets the growing demand of affluent, fast growing urban populations on the continent looking for high value processed and pre-cooked foods.

Furthermore, it advocates that this opportunity should be met by many of the continent’s existing smallholder farmers.

Currently, part of this growing demand for Africa’s food is met by imports. These amount to US$35bn per annum and are expected to cost US$110bn by 2025 unless Africa improves the productivity and global competitiveness of its agribusiness and agriculture sectors.

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