Megatrends driving agrifood system transformation in Africa

AGRF 2020

A panel on megatrends driving agrifood system transformation in Africa has highlighted the urgency of acting in favor of agricultural transformation. According to the panelists, the diagnosis of major trends in agro-food systems in Africa reveals a paradox between low productivity of land, scarcity of arable land and the lack of agricultural policy and growing demand for food due to rampant demographics on the continent. This trend makes the continent largely dependent on food imports such as millions of tons of rice per year.

Based on this observation, Martin Fregene, Director of the agribusiness division of the AfDB drew on the example of Brazil, which through appropriate policies and a research system involving actors such as farmers has improved its productivity.  “We need such collaboration to boost agricultural progress and adopt agricultural technologies on a large scale and small scale. We must work together, federate the efforts of stakeholders.” For the situation of Africa is no different from Brazil: we need an ecosystem to build institutional capacity, including university training for the transformation of the agricultural sector, “he said.

“We need infrastructure and regulatory framework for the transformation of the agricultural sector.  At the AfDB level, we are trying to respond to Africa’s food demand by controlling rural migration”, added Fregene. For its part, Sieglinde Snapp, associate director for Center for global Change and Earth Observation explained how research and public investment have allowed Malawi to improve soil productivity.

The analysis of agri-food systems, made by Dr. Adebayo Aromolaran, of the faculty of agriculture, Adekunle Ajasin university, highlights the emergence of medium-scale farmers (between 5 and 100 ha) in Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda and Tanzania.  The production of these farmers is 45% higher than that of large farms, proof that it abounds in Africa, he said. He lists ten challenges to boost the growth of these farmers including land reforms (50% of land does not have land titles), lack of manpower (13% of farmers are under 35 years of age) and lack of insurance products. We need to highlight the agricultural training in our universities and encourage young farmers to favor the emergence of  the young agricultural entrepreneur “, calls Dr. Adebayo.

For Miltone Ayieko, director Tegemeo institute and ReNAPRI, it’s time for action.  “We need to adopt targeted approaches with governments and development partners to achieve agricultural transformation. The production system is changing in Africa. Rapid growth in the demand for food offers the opportunity to produce more,” he said, adding that research institutes need to work together because 60% of research centers lack funding.  

Finally, Dr Abebe Shimeles, Manager of Development Research Division, AfDB 

presenting a recent report on jobs in Africa, called for the African youth to benefit from production.  “The future of Africa goes through structural reforms, we need to mobilize resources”.