Who Will Feed Africa?

Supply chain shocks in one country have severe consequences in other parts of the world in today's globally connected world. The end result is food insecurity.
Food, one of the most important resources on the planet, is already a major item on the global agenda

The proportion of Africans who are malnourished has steadily increased, more people in Africa are at risk of becoming food insecure. According to data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), 54.2% of Africans experienced moderate to severe food insecurity in 2019. Acute food insecurity increased by more than 60% between 2020 and 2021. The global halting of supply chains as a result of governments' pandemic response exacerbated an already severe but simmering crisis which emphasizes, more than ever, that Africa cannot afford to rely on third-party supply chains for basic food production. This raises a critical question: "Who will feed Africa?"

In Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, data from the World Bank show that the proportion of Nigerian adults experiencing moderate or severe food insecurity increased from 48.5% in 2019 to 75.5% in 2021. While Africa's tiny middle class may complain about rising food prices on social media, the people most affected by food inflation are those with already meager incomes, the majority of which is spent on food. However, food prices are not the only thing rising. Prices for agricultural inputs used to produce food are also rising.

Agriculture, mostly of the subsistence variety, already employs between 65% and 70% of Africans. Higher trade taxes on African agricultural exports in comparison to other regions incentivize food importation; and a combination of climate change, conflict, continued reliance on rain-fed agriculture, and a focus on growing cash crops over food crops makes agriculture in Africa unappealing, inefficient, and even risky.

However, transforming African agriculture into an entrepreneurial venture holds great promise for solving the continent's perennial food problem while also creating a large number of jobs and improving trade imbalances. Every year, Africa imports approximately $50 billion in food. Even minor improvements in productivity, land management, and agricultural input use can have a significant impact.

Smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa are trapped in a productivity trap, which limits their economic development potential under current policy initiatives. Despite accounting for 80% of Africa's total food production, Africa's smallholder farms, on which approximately 300 million people rely, are frequently food insecure. Farms must eventually become more productive in order to generate economic growth, lift smallholder farmers out of poverty, and reduce food insecurity in these systems.

Aside from the productivity issue, there is also the issue of insufficient policy initiatives to support economic growth through agriculture, which raises the question of how Africa's population will be fed in the future. What it boils down to for the future of feeding Africa's rapidly growing population is the need for industrialization—this is what will allow economies to grow and small-scale farms to become more productive, which is not a popular viewpoint in many areas.

The discussion about feeding Africa begins with a commitment to discovering and expanding innovation, policy, and action that can drive food sustainability, one of which is mechanized farming. That is how we can build food resilience and finally put an end to the stigma of being associated with food insecurity and starvation. The question still remains, Who will feed Africa? The answer lies within Africa. We believe Africa can feed herself.