The future of global food security is in the hands of Africa. In the words of Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina — “By 2050, Africa will feed the world”. Dr. Adesina is not alone in that belief. Dr. Kanayo Nwanze, former president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (Ifad) and a 2016 Africa Food Prize winner has stated similar sentiments- a belief that if there was to be a concerted effort in investing in Agriculture- Africa can indeed feed the world.
It might see like a bold statement to make. After all, many African countries still suffer droughts and famines and in the face of these dark statistics, how could Africa feed the world?
Yet, we cannot escape today’s reality all the same. It’s true that there is food insecurity in Africa. In East Africa alone, more than 25.5 million people need food and water. Severe food insecurity and drought is ravaging entire communities in Nigeria, Chad, and Northern Cameroon- — the World Vision Reports. Plan International paints a similar story of over 20 million people across Somalia, Kenya, Southern Sudan and Ethiopia in urgent need of food. This is not to mention that most African countries largely remain net importers of food.
On the other side of that coin of statistics is that we have a lot to look forward to. Let’s look at the facts:
- Today Africa has roughly 60% of global uncultivated arable land.
- Agricultural production is up 160% over the past 30 years, far above the global average of 100%.
- Country and continental level agriculture programs continue to be adopted- a good example is the recent Agricultural Transformation Agenda adopted by the African Development Bank
- In Sub-Saharan Africa alone, 18 countries have reached the Millennium Development Goal’s first target of halving the proportion of people who are hungry.
Efforts are being made everywhere in the continent to change these statistics, bring food security and for countries to become next exporters of food.
Leaders such Dr. Adesina, Prof. Ruth Oniang’o and Mme Maimouna Sidibe are championing agriculture and small holder farmers who are at the heart of food production in Africa.
African governments are also becoming more proactive. Most recently, over over 80 government and development sector experts met in Addis Ababa in July 2017 to launch an integrated approach to sustainability and resilience for Food security in Sub-Saharan Africa. The program is designed to promote sustainability and resilience among farmers by managing natural resources that are aimed at increasing agricultural productivity.
When we ask ourselves today whether we will be able to transform the agriculture sector in Africa -we can be hopeful.
We need to continue innovating around Agriculture and foster sustainable solutions to food insecurity in Africa. And if the trend continues, history will remembers us kindly. We will be the generation of leaders, of innovators and of thinkers who propelled Africa to the top and brought food security to the continent and the world.
_ Bolaji Akinboro_ Co-Founder of Cellulant Corporation; CEO of Cellulant Nigeria, Chief of Party- eWallet and foremost thought leader on Financial Inclusion and AgriTech in Africa