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How to reduce Africa’s dependence on food imports

Africa’s food security is threatened by its huge dependence on imports, yet the continent should be able to produce enough food for its growing population, now and into the future.

This is the theme of a Fin24 article written by three financial services analysts, Papa Sekyiamah, Joseph Mahwehwe and Caroline Komey.

They note that Africa imports nearly 85% of its food needs, at an annual cost of more than $35 billion. This heavy reliance on food imports is detrimental to food security, especially when a crisis is exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and war in Ukraine.

Despite the fact that Africa’s population is projected to more than double to 2.5 billion people in 30 years, they argue that co-operation between governments and the private sector could result in a massive increase in food production. The resultant huge saving in foreign currency could be used for socio-economic purposes.

Why isn’t it happening now? Low and volatile yields are compounded by post-harvest losses of 30% to 40% of food produced in Africa.

Their solution is to concentrate on the smallholder farmers who produce most of the continent’s food.

“Addressing smallholder famer productivity, and sustainable access to markets is key to securing food security and reducing Africa’s food import bill”.

They advocate a private-sector led “value chain ecosystem approach” with governments creating an enabling environment and possibly offering limited guarantees on debt lending.

Success will be difficult, but it is possible, they say. It will require “courageous leadership, tenacious execution and a solution mindset by all stakeholders”.

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