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Africa can feed the world, if it overcomes its hurdles

By Admin

Added 15th August 2016 12:19 PM

Africa is believed to account for about 15 to 25 percent of population increase. For solutions, it rests exclusively on the shoulders of its citizens. One big suspicion is that African farmers can be a handy lot in this. And even get other parts of the world out of a deepening hole.

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Africa is believed to account for about 15 to 25 percent of population increase. For solutions, it rests exclusively on the shoulders of its citizens. One big suspicion is that African farmers can be a handy lot in this. And even get other parts of the world out of a deepening hole.

By Simon Mone

Some informal debate is currently going on, as to whether Africa can optimise its farmland for the betterment of the world’s hungry. And it is interesting, the answers coming out. To others, it is an emphatic yes. They back it up with statistics. We unfold the info to affirm this assertion. Figures show that Africa hosts about 60-65 per cent of the world’s uncultivated arable land and 10 per cent of renewable freshwater resources.

That Africa has registered a 160 per cent increase in agricultural output over the past 30 years. These are reliable statistics. According to New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), this advantage is somewhat being undermined by rising population. Projections are that by 2050, the world’s population could stand at 10 billion. So we have reasons to adjust ourselves in the hope of sustaining it. And one way to do this is by improving agriculture. Then we will not have to worry too much about how to feed the number.

Africa is believed to account for about 15 to 25 percent of population increase. For solutions, it rests exclusively on the shoulders of its citizens. One big suspicion is that African farmers can be a handy lot in this. And even get other parts of the world out of a deepening hole.

This is a real possibility. Only we need to find ways of permanently jumping over our usual huddles. To start with, there is a big challenge with African borders. You see! Only 13 out of the fifty something African countries have visa-free or visa-on-arrival entry.

In fact, the regional organisations have made many parts of West Africa to look isolated from the bigger continent. We ought to open up. Secondly, movement of goods, services and people across borders is tedious.

Business people from land-locked countries especially are recipients of some nightmares. They incur significant losses in movement due to long, unnecessary delays which make perishable commodities to go stale. We can offer solutions to this - relax border restrictions.

Third, there are prohibitive charges and unfriendly operating environments which can be waved. And fourth, states should instead of discouraging farmers, ensure that crop prices do not fluctuate to put traders out of the business. Governments should also consider removing unfriendly taxes. Then there will be interest in crop agriculture, considering that even with taxes, it is hard to pick out where it is spent.

 

A lot is there to be desired. Infrastructure is still poor, with a big part of the continent, non-compliant. Storage facilities and markets need more time and seriousness to revamp. Roads are basically earthen roads and at times are not passable - presenting transportation challenges. Fifth, intermittent power supply means many food producers are forced to opt for expensive energy sources.

Africa can become a big food basket for the rest of the world, but should make a deliberate attempt at removing these prevailing challenges. Upgrade all the support infrastructure and facilities. And beyond infrastructure, we see corruption still continues to undermine some positive gains.

Instead what we see is the direct opposite of its potential. A quarter of people in Sub-Saharan Africa are currently believed go hungry. And have to depend on food rationing. Yet, in fact, this population could be the ones supplying World Food Programme. What a shame! Africa needs deliberate effort from the regional organisations to be able to overcome its challenges. In the process, it can be the supplier of food to the rest of the world.

The writer is a civil engineer

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