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Tuesday, 02 May 2017

Africa Has Vast Agricultural Potential - Why Import U.S.$110 Billion Worth of Food

The African continent has the potential to feed itself and even have surplus food to export to other parts of the world. But instead, the continent imports $35 billion worth of food and agricultural products every year, and if the current predictions hold, the import bill will rise to $110 billion annually by 2025. So the question is: if the African continent has vast agricultural potential as we have been led to believe, why are we facing an astronomical food import bill? To say nothing of, I'm not the first or last person to ask this question. Indeed, a few days ago, the President of the African Development Bank (ADB), Akinwumi Adesina, made the following remarks while speaking at the Centre for Global Development in Washing DC: "Africa's annual food import bill of $35 billion, estimated to rise to $110 billion by 2025, weakens African economies, decimates its agriculture and exports jobs from the continent. Africa's annual food import bill of $35 billion is just about the same amount it needs to close its power deficit." Adesina added: "to rapidly support Africa to diversify its economies, and revive its rural areas, we have prioritized agriculture. We are taking action. The Bank has committed $24 billion towards agriculture in the next 10 years, with a sharp focus on food self-sufficiency and agricultural industrialization." Clearly the AfDB chief is very concerned, and so he should be. With the latest food crises in East Africa (South Sudan and Somalia), there is a strange feeling that we may be about to repeat the scenario of two years ago when the United Nations declared that nearly 2.5 million people in the Sahel belt were in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, particularly food. At the time, the UN and other organisations campaigned to raise more than $2 billion to feed people from countries such as Sudan and the Central African Republic. But while the situation varies from one country to another and you cannot point to a stand-alone reason to explain why many nations on the African continent have continuously struggled to guarantee food supply let alone export agricultural products beyond coffee and tea despite the potential to do so, generally speaking, there are interlinking factors that can help explain the inability for Africa to fulfil her potential.

Source: Allafrica