Africa has no ex­cuse spend­ing USD$35bil­lion an­nu­ally on food im­ports - AfDB

Zambian Business Times - - BUSINESS REVIEW -

THE African De­vel­op­ment Bank Group - AfDB had is­sued an ur­gent call to the African farm­ers [and gov­ern­ments] across the con­ti­nent to adopt new tech­nolo­gies with the po­ten­tial to trans­form agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion.

In a press state­ment emailed to the Zambian Busi­ness Times - ZBT, Ak­in­wumi Adesina, the pres­i­dent of the AfDB said the tech­nol­ogy trans­fer was needed im­me­di­ately and that ev­i­dence from coun­tries like Nige­ria demon­strated that tech­nol­ogy plus strong gov­ern­ment back­ing was al­ready yield­ing pos­i­tive re­sults.

Tech­nolo­gies for African Agri­cul­tural Trans­for­ma­tion - TAAT is tak­ing bold steps to bring down some of the bar­ri­ers pre­vent­ing farm­ers from ac­cess­ing lat­est seed va­ri­eties and tech­nolo­gies to im­prove their pro­duc­tiv­ity. Adesina told del­e­gates at the 2018 con­fer­ence at­tended by over 1,600 agri­cul­tural and ap­plied economists from around the world that there is no rea­son why Africa should be spend­ing over US$35bil­lion a year im­port­ing food.

For Zam­bia, the coun­try is cur­rently bat­tling a fish deficit which the min­istry of live­stock and fish­eries dis­closed in May 2017 that it is cost­ing the coun­try an es­ti­mated K3.8 bil­lion (about USD380 mil­lion) an­nu­ally in food im­ports.

Other foods im­ported into Zam­bia are frozen foods, fruit and veg­eta­bles mostly via South African owned food chain stores which have ex­pan­sive dis­tri­bu­tion net­work across ma­jor towns and cities. Other food im­ports re­late to sim­ple prod­ucts such as corn flakes, canned foods and ex­otic food stuffs.

Zam­bia in March 2017 at­tempted to ban the im­por­ta­tion of cer­tain fruits and veg­eta­bles, es­pe­cially ones be­ing grown lo­cally to bol­ster its lo­cal pro­duc­tion, a move that was well re­ceived by lo­cal farm­ers. How­ever, the ban was short lived and re­versed after two weeks due to le­gal com­pli­ca­tions on in­ter­na­tional trade treaties that the coun­try had as­sented to.

Im­port sub­sti­tu­tion has been a well-known eco­nomic tool to use to stem the forex bleed­ing for a coun­try, how­ever, care must be taken to en­sure that there is syn­chro­niza­tion be­tween reg­u­la­tory pro­tec­tion­ism, cost of lo­cal pro­duc­tion as well as con­nec­tiv­ity to the re­gional and global value chains that can be tapped to even take ad­van­tage of an ex­port mar­ket.

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