FAO charges African governments to invest more in agriculture
THE Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), has said that governments in all African countries must invest heavily in the development of their agricultural industry to boost intracontinental trade of agricultural products.
Director-General, FAO, José Graziano da Silva stated this on the sidelines of the just-concluded United Nations General Assembly in New York, United States of America.
He noted that rising demand for food in Africa can serve as an engine for economic development and improved nutrition across the continent.
“Food imports to Africa have been rising for a number of decades, helping drive consumers towards less nutritious diets and contributing to higher levels of obesity while at the same time limiting economic opportunities for domestic food producers.” He posited.
He pointed out that the value of Africa’s food market is expected to be more than triple in value by 2030 to $1 trillion annually, adding that in addition to core investments, enhanced regional trade would be vital in unlocking opportunities for African food producers and processors in the future.
With this potential engine for sustainable development in mind, in March 2018 regional governments announced their intention to establish an Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) aimed at creating an integrated market accounting for an overall GDP of $3 trillion and encompassing some 1.3 billion consumers. So far, 49 African governments have signed on to the initiative.
He also argued that: “Agro-industrialisation enables Africa to preserve its seasonal and abundant fruits and vegetables to be available all over the year.
“Agro-industrial development that connects family farmers, herders and fisher folks to rewarding markets can create opportunities for young people, stimulate greener practices throughout the food system and deliver healthier and safer food to consumers.”
FAO is working with the African Union Commission (AUC) to support enhanced agricultural and food trade in a variety of ways, including the development of the Union’s Agribusiness Strategy.
The organisation is also working with a wide range of partners on the Accelerator for Agriculture and Agro-industry Development and Innovation (3ADI+) initiative, which is working to develop inclusive, efficient, sustainable and competitive agriculture and food value chains and market systems across the continent.
The FAO Director-General also emphasised how agro-industralisation can support the production of local food in Africa, which potentially reduces the dependence of the import of processed food. This has a proven strong connection with the increase of obesity and overwieight, which is deeply affecting Africa also as part of a global pandemic, he said.