The heightened agribusiness activities in Africa could see the continent stop importing food by 2030, the Africa Agriculture Status Report has forecasted.
According to the report, the power of entrepreneurs and the free market is driving Africa’s economic growth from food production as business wakes up to opportunities presented by the continent’s rich food market valued at $1 trillion (Sh100 trillion) per year.
African Development Bank (AfDB) estimates the continent’s annual food import bill at $35 billion (Sh3.5 trillion) and is expected to rise to $110 billion (Sh11 trillion) by 2025.
The report highlights the opportunity for Africa to feed its people with locally made high value processed and pre-cooked foods. It further advocates that this opportunity be met by smallholder farmers.
‘’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,’’ the report states.
Despite 37 percent of the population now living in urban centres, most jobs have been created in low paid, less productive services rather than in industry, with this service sector accounting for more than half of the continent’s GDP.
Smart investments in the food system can change this picture dramatically if planned correctly. Speaking during the launch of the report in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, AGRA president Agnes Kalibata said 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,’’ said Kalibata
“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,’’ said Peter Hazell (IFPRI), the technical director of the report.