ZEF | With the right investments and policies, Africa can mobilize its large food production potentials

Africa has the potential to secure its supply of food for affordable and healthy diets from the sustainable use of its own resources, but significant investments and policies are needed to transform this potential into reality, a study by the Center for Development Research (ZEF) and AKADEMIYA2063 concludes.

Africa still imports US$ 60 billion worth of food every year. This primarily urban market offers an opportunity for Africa’s agricultural producers and food industries. Beyond the direct benefits for food and nutrition security, a stronger food and agriculture sector will create jobs and raise incomes in rural areas, increase government revenues, ensure accelerated economic growth and development, and build resilience against the impacts of climate change and COVID-19 in Africa.

The study highlights a number of priority areas for investments, cooperation and policies to increase the supply and distribution of food from African crop, livestock, agro-forestry and fisheries production. To enhance production volumes, investments should focus on innovations related to production inputs, small-scale irrigation and off-grid energy technologies, finance, digitalization and mechanization. These investments need to be supported through systemic interventions that enhance the skills of the labour force, provide a conducive business environment, empower marginalized groups and ensure environmental sustainability of production. Professor Joachim von Braun, Director at ZEF, says: “we should not just think about production inputs but about mobilizing people’s capacities. Investing in the education and training of the youth and women would give a boost to African food production.”

Improving the supply of food alone will not be enough. Investments and policies are also needed to facilitate market access and regional trade and thereby enable access to African food products across the entire continent. Investments in transport infrastructure, processing industries, inclusive markets for small-scale producers and regional trade integration, including through the African Continental Free Trade Area, should be prioritized. In addition, investments in advanced technologies to reduce food losses will be needed to ensure that a considerably larger share of African production actually reaches end consumers.

The international community can assist Africa in increasing its own food supply through well-targeted development assistance and foreign direct investments, supportive trade rules and collaborative research efforts. Any such measures need to align closely with Africa’s own agricultural transformation agenda. Dr. Ousmane Badiane, Executive Chairperson of AKADEMIYA2063, notes: “the improved performance of the agricultural sector in recent years, led by increased investment and better policies, shows that progress is possible. The road to food and nutrition security is still a very long one. Getting there will require continued policy reforms and sustained investment in agriculture.”
Download the full report here:

From potentials to reality: Transforming Africa’s food production
(English version):   https://www.zef.de/fileadmin/downloads/ZEF_Akademiya2063.pdf

Von den Potenzialen zur Realität: Wie die afrikanische Lebensmittelproduktion gesteigert werden kann
(German version):  https://www.zef.de/fileadmin/downloads/ZEF_Akademiya2063_d.pdf

Source: Center for Development Research University of Bonn, 09.10.2020