Feed Africa – Strategy for Agricultural Transformation in Africa 2016-2025

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Agriculture is a major source of income in Africa; however, untapped agricultural potential has contributed to persistent poverty and deteriorating food security, resulting in a projected increase in the number of undernourished people from ~240m in 2015 to ~320m by 2025. Falling commodity prices for a broad range of natural resources are creating an increasing imperative for African nations to diversify their exports and reduce current account deficits. At the same time, increased food demand and changing consumption habits driven by demographic factors such as population growth and urbanization are leading to rapidly rising net food imports, which are expected to grow from US$35bn in 2015 to over US$110bn by 2025.

These rising imports are indicative of a broader opportunity to transform agriculture construed as a business. The scale of imports demonstrate that demand exists, if a vibrant private agribusiness sector in Africa can be stimulated to service it. These food imports represent a diverse set of markets, both in key commodities as well as processed goods and associated or ‘agro-allied’ industries worth more than US$100bn in revenue per annum, while delivering food security and broad-based income growth.

Capturing these opportunities on the scale required in Africa has occurred elsewhere in the world before, such as in Brazil, Malaysia and Vietnam, and often over a shorter time period. The conditions for transformation are beginning to materialize in a number of African countries. Smaller-scale transformations are happening, such as in the horticulture and floriculture sectors in Kenya and Ethiopia respectively, Rwanda’s rapid and material reductions in the level of malnutrition, Nigeria’s large scale registration of farmers onto an electronic-wallet system to facilitate fertilizer subsidy payments, and transformation of the rice sector in Senegal. These instances show that localized transformation in Africa is possible, and point the way for larger-scale shifts in African agriculture. The lessons learned from these experiences help frame this Strategy. Successful transformations are business-led, and involve the creation of three simultaneous conditions:

(i) a large-scale dissemination of productivity-increasing technology and inputs, plus input intensity and capital intensity;

(ii) the development of input and output markets structures and incentives that allow the full realization of the value of increased production; and,

(iii) a well-functioning and vibrant private sector that can manage and allocate skill and capital to scale emergent success and drive long-term sustainable agribusiness growth.