Africa needs to increase its investment in science and technology to become more efficient and competitive in agriculture and to diversify its economies; this is according to Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank.
“Africa spends $35 billion in importing food; it is projected that the number will grow to $110 billion by 2025. Africa is importing what it should be producing, creating poverty within Africa and exporting jobs to other continents,” he lamented.
“Africa’s potential that requires being unlocked is massive as it has 65 per cent of the world’s arable land,” he added.
“But Africa cannot eat potential.”
According to the United Nations’ 2015 World Population Prospect Report, 2.4 billion people are projected to be added to the global population between 2015 and 2050, with 1.3 billion in Africa alone.
This means if Africa realises the potential, it will feed over nine billion by 2050.
“What Africa does with agriculture has far reaching impact beyond the region; it will shape the future of food in the world that’s why greater investment in the space is a pre-requisite,” added Adesina.
He also decried that Africa’s agriculture sector has been looked at, in the past, as developmental and part of the social sector.
“This approach has not been helpful, the focus has always been viewed in terms of managing rural poverty and not wealth creation,” he added.
“This sector accounts for about 60 per cent in the labour force in many African economies barely contribute much in terms of revenue for governments.”
He said the high level of poverty in many rural communities demonstrated that there was much lip service being paid.