The headline figures for agriculture in Africa paint a contrasting picture: imports that are steadily rising while the continent’s producers are recording harvest growth. Digging deep into the numbers, several trends are revealed: oil importers like Nigeria with huge food import bills, African farmers are producing more and more, but investment and farm yields are lagging population growth as many African authorities neglect agricultural research.
According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, “Africa imported about 85% of its food (2016-2018) from outside the continent,” amounting to $35bn and is expected to reach $110bn by 2025. At the same time, sub-Saharan Africa has recorded “the highest rate of agricultural production growth of any region of the world since 2000”. How do these two trends balance out?
Food-security challenges have long-overshadowed the progress made on the continent. Several factors have contributed to this perception.
“The 2010/2011 global food crisis and increase in food imports looked alarming. $7bn in 2000 ramped up to $40bn by 2010. What we didn’t know was that Africa has the fastest-growing agricultural sector in the world, in terms of percentage growth. Agricultural production has been increasing at a yearly 4.3% rate (inflation adjusted) while the world
Source: The African Report