Two model farmers who have championed agricultural innovation and sustainable growth within African agriculture have been named the winners of the 2019 Africa Food Prize. Continue reading
In this opinion piece, 2017 World Food Prize Laureate Dr. Akinwumi Adesina sets out his vision for catalysing investment in an Africa-owned transformation of the continent’s agriculture sector.
No region of the world has ever industrialised without the agricultural sector being first transformed. Africa is the last continent to do so and needs to catch up fast.
Although 60% of the population are involved in farming, it accounts for less than one seventh of its GDP, and African agricultural yield is the lowest in the world.
Yet this very fact offers a large-scale opportunity for international investors and big-ticket entrepreneurs. In Africa, economic diversification and lasting wealth creation begins with a vibrant agriculture sector. Between $30 and $40 billion a year over the next ten years is needed to transform African agriculture and create the vibrancy. It’s a lot of money, but it is available, even within Africa, if the projects are good enough. Continue reading
This week, Kanayo Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) wrote a piece for FT: This is Africa, about the huge potential that African agriculture can have, if the right investments and interventions are made. Part of the “Inclusive Economies” series, the article explores that statistics presented in the latest Farming First infographic, which was compiled in partnership with IFAD.
In the article, Nwanze states that today, two thirds of Africans earn their living from agriculture or fisheries, yet Africa imports $35bn worth of food every year. He questions why this should be, as this is food that can be and should be grown in Africa, by Africans. This is money that should be flowing in to support African businesses, not outwards.
When speaking of the infographic Farming First and IFAD created to demonstrate the potential African agriculture has, Nwanze writes that the data gathered speaks volumes about why Africa lags behind other regions. For example, only around 5 percent of cultivated land in Africa is irrigated, compared with 41 percent in Asia. At the same time, farmers in Africa apply only 10 to 13kg of fertilizer per hectare of cultivated land. This compares to more than 100kg in South Asia – even though roughly 75 percent of African soils lack the nutrients needed to grow healthy crops.
Irrigation alone could boost the continent’s agricultural output by 50 percent, and efficient use of fertilizer has been proven to triple yields. Imagine the future Africa could have if the appropriate investments and policies were in place to realize just these two interventions.
To realize Africa’s potential, he argues, we need to dramatically change the way we look at agriculture. Smallholder farming is a significant economic activity, a business enterprise that feeds people and generates wealth. It is a dignified profession and needs to be treated as such, and not just as an activity of the rural poor.
Nwanze urges us to take collective action to ensure that Africa’s future includes a vibrant and productive rural economy, which begins on the farm. Only then can we hope to see a continent that is prosperous and free of hunger.