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Africa looks to build food self-sufficiency

In a paper published by the Cornell Alliance for Science Joseph Gakpo examines how some see the Covid-19 pandemic global supply chain disruptions as an opportunity for the continent to become self-sufficient in food production.


Africa is a net food importer, spending between US$35 billion and US$50 billion annually on the importation of foods, most of which can be produced in Africa.


“The Covid-19 pandemic provides a golden opportunity for Ghana to optimize our potential for food production to meet domestic needs, grow our agricultural exports and create jobs for the youth of this country,” Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Ghana’s Minister for Food and Agriculture, told a media briefing in the capital Accra.


“In the wake of export bans in countries from where we import a large chunk of our food items like rice and poultry, it provides a compelling situation for us to put strategic measures in place to ramp up production for all our key staples,” the minister added. “It also gives us the opportunity to intensify agro-processing, thus reducing post-harvest losses and ensure year-round food availability, whilst creating the needed jobs.”


Africa’s poultry industry, for example, has struggled over the years because imported products are usually less expensive than those that are home-produced. This has led to the local poultry industry collapsing in many African countries.


The paper notes that poultry products produced in France and shipped across the Atlantic Ocean, all the way to Togo, could cost about 50 percent less than chicken meat produced in the capital city of Lome.


This is due in large part because producers in advanced economies benefit from government direct and indirect subsidies.


African farmers agree now is the right time to give farmers increased support so they can produce and distribute food in their localities without having to transport products over long distances.


“There can be more than enough food here that can feed us without importation,” Opambuor Oboadie Bonsu, president of the Concerned Farmers Association in Ghana Nana, told the Alliance for Science. “In this era of Covid-19, everywhere is on lockdown. It is now time to stop the importation of food and consume local food. More investments are needed in roads and other areas to transport the food.”


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