New report places Agribusiness ahead of minerals to steer economic growth

By ABCafrica reporter

The African Agriculture Status Report {AASR} lunched at this year’s African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) in Cote d’Ivoire, put Agribusiness ahead of minerals, to restart African growth. According to the report, agriculture will be Africa’s quiet revolution, with a focus on SMEs and smallholder farmers creating the high productivity jobs and sustainable economic growth that failed to materialize from mineral deposits and increased urbanization.

Despite 37 percent of the population now living in urban centres, most jobs have been created in lower paid, less productive services rather than in industry, with this service sector accounting for more than half of the continent’s GDP.

Smart investments in the food system can change this picture dramatically if planned correctly.Commenting on this year’s report findings, Dr. Agnes Kalibata, President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) which commissioned the study said: “Africa has the latent natural resources, skills, human and land capacity to tip the balance of payments and move from importer to exporter by eating food made in Africa. This report shows us that agriculture involving an inclusive transformation that goes beyond the farm to agri-businesses will be Africa’s surest and fastest path to that new level of prosperity.”

To succeed, Africa’s agricultural revolution needs to be very different to those seen in the rest of world.It requires an inclusive approach that links millions of small farms to agribusinesses, creating extended food supply chains and employment opportunities for millions including those that will transition from farming.

This is in contrast to the model often seen elsewhere in the world of moving to large scale commercial farming and food processing, which employs relatively few people and requires high levels of capital.

The report highlights the opportunity for Africa to feed the continent with food made in Africa that meets the growing demand of affluent, fast growing urban populations on the continent looking for high value processed and pre-cooked foods. Furthermore, it advocates that this opportunity should be met by many of the continent’s existing smallholder farmers. Currently part of this growing demand for Africa’s food is met by imports.

The report acknowledges that the private sector holds the key to the transformation of the food system so far.

“Impressive value addition and employment is being created by SMEs along value chains in the form of increased agricultural trade, farm servicing, agro processing, urban retailing and food services. Large agribusinesses like seed companies, agro processors and supermarkets are also playing an increasing role in the food value chain in many regions,” said Peter Hazell (IFPRI), the technical director of the report.

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