The growing demand for food in Africa, which is currently met by imports worth $35 billion per annum, is expected to reach $110 billion by 2025, said the latest Africa Agriculture Status Report released on Wednesday, September 6.
The report, which was launched at the 2017 African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) in Cote d’Ivoire, noted that unless Africa improves the productivity and global competiveness of its agribusiness and agriculture sectors, such economically negative imports will continue to weaken the continent’s currencies and lake its markets less globally competitive.
The report acknowledged that the private sector holds the key to the transformation of the food system in Africa.
“Impressive value addition and employment is being created by SMEs along value chains in the form of increased agricultural trade, farm servicing, agro processing, urban retailing and food services. Large agribusinesses like seed companies, agro processors and supermarkets are also playing an increasing role in the food value chain in many regions,” said Peter Hazell, the technical director of the report.
However, the study maintained that left to the private sector alone, growth in the agrifood system will not be as fast as it could, nor will it benefit as many smallholder farmers and SMEs as it could.
It also emphasized that government support is needed to both stimulate and guide the transition and, as a high priority, governments need to create an enabling business environment and in particular, meet targets to invest ten percent of GDP in agriculture, agreed at the 2003 African Union (AU) Summit as part of The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).
The report further urged governments to nurture a globally competitive food production sector through measures such as increasing infrastructure investment in secondary cities and towns, improving the reliability of energy and water supplies, building more wholesale market spaces, promoting open regional trade, identifying and investing in first mover crops and introducing stricter standards for food safety and quality.
It also called on governments to stimulate new private public partnerships for more innovative financing and insurance provision which can lead to increased resilience for farmers and their households.