Africa blows $35bn on food im­ports: AfDB

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business Chronicle - Se­nior Busi­ness Re­porter

AFRICA is spend­ing $35 bil­lion an­nu­ally on food im­ports due to the ab­sence of vi­brant food pro­cess­ing firms, the African De­vel­op­ment Bank (AfDB) has said.

The re­gional bank has since called on the con­ti­nent to de­velop poli­cies that sup­port the es­tab­lish­ment of food pro­cess­ing and manufacturing firms.

AfDB pres­i­dent Mr Ak­in­wumi Adesina has un­der­lined the im­por­tance of poli­cies to sup­port the es­tab­lish­ment of pri­vate sec­tor-driven food pro­cess­ing and manufacturing com­pa­nies in ru­ral ar­eas to deal with the im­mense food waste.

“The AfDB pres­i­dent has ad­dressed the chal­lenge of post-har­vest losses in Africa, while out­lin­ing the im­por­tance of pol­icy reg­u­la­tions to end the losses in a con­ti­nent that spends $35 bil­lion on food im­ports each year,” said AfDB in a state­ment.

Mr Ak­in­wumi was quoted as say­ing while Africa de­pends on food im­ports, mas­sive food quan­ti­ties were go­ing into waste in most ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties in Africa.

“Mas­sive quan­ti­ties of food crops, fresh fruits and veg­eta­bles and dairy prod­ucts go to waste in ru­ral ar­eas, while Africa de­pends on food im­ports,” he said this at a re­cent African Green Revo­lu­tion Fo­rum in Nairobi, Kenya.

Dur­ing the fo­rum, African lead­ers, busi­nesses, and ma­jor de­vel­op­ment part­ners have pledged over $30 bil­lion in in­vest­ment to in­crease pro­duc­tion, in­come and em­ploy­ment for small­holder farm­ers and lo­cal African agri­cul­ture busi­nesses in the next 10 years.

The col­lec­tive pledges rep­re­sent the big­gest pack­age of fi­nan­cial com­mit­ments to the African agri­cul­tural sec­tor.

It is be­lieved that AfDB sup­port will ac­cel­er­ate ac­cess to com­mer­cial fi­nanc­ing re­in­forced by proven ap­proaches to re­duc­ing risks of com­mer­cial lend­ing to small­holder farm­ers and other agri­cul­ture busi­ness.

Last month, AfDB high­lighted that cre­at­ing mar­kets, de­vel­op­ing in­fra­struc­ture and pro­vid­ing fi­nanc­ing for farm­ers are key in­gre­di­ents for trans­form­ing agri­cul­ture in Africa.

It has been noted that gov­ern­ments can achieve the above by de­vel­op­ing agro-al­lied in­dus­trial zones and sta­ple crop pro­cess­ing zones in ru­ral ar­eas.

Such zones, sup­ported with con­sol­i­dated in­fra­struc­ture, in­clud­ing roads, water, elec­tric­ity, have the po­ten­tial to drive down the cost of do­ing busi­ness for pri­vate food and agribusi­ness firms.

Mr Ak­in­wumi Adesina

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