Africa Development Bank President, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, has urged the federal government to maximize opportunities in the agriculture sector towards making Nigeria and indeed Africa a net exporter of food.
Adeshina who stated this in his goodwill message, presented at the ongoing Feed Nigeria Summit, also entrenched the need to approach agriculture as a viable business.
According to the AfDB’s helmsman, “ Africa has no business importing food. Africa should be a net exporter of food. Agriculture in Africa must move away from being treated as a social sector for managing poverty to a business of creating wealth”.
He said that development of agricultural value chains will create market opportunities for hundreds of billions of farmers.
“Africa imports 35 billion dollars of food annually. This is expected to rise to about 110 billion dollars in 2025 if this current trend continues. As it does, the continent desimates rural areas, exports jobs and erodes incomes from its farmers, imagine what 35 billion will do if Africa simply feeds itself, it is enough to provide 10 per cent electricity all over Africa.
So we must think differently, Africa produces 75 per cent of the world’s cocoa but receives only 2 per cent of the 100 billion annual chocolate market. Africa exports simply raw materials” he said.
highlighting the need for invest in agricultural processing Adesina noted that the price of cocoa may fall, but never the price of chocolate, and while coffee farmers faced declining prices, the grinders smile all the way to the market.
“Africa must embark on agricultural industrialisation and add value to all its agricultural commodities, government should provide incentives to food and agribusiness companies to locate in rural areas”, he said.
“Staple crop processing zones which are vast agro industries zones, enabled with infrastructure should be developed to support food industries to establish in rural areas” he said.
He explained that investment in these areas will reduce the cost of doing business, create huge market pool for farmers zones, and reduce post harvest losses.
“These staple processing zones will transform rural Africa into new zones of economic prosperity”, he added.