By Oluwafunke Ishola
Dr Akinwumi Adesina, President, African Development Bank (AfDB), says Africa must embark on agriculture industrialisation and its value chain to transform the continent’s economy.
Adeshina made the call in his goodwill message to the ongoing Feed Nigeria Summit on Wednesday in Lagos.
The theme of the summit organised by AgroNigeria is Feed Nigeria to feed Africa.
Adesina urged governments to provide incentives to food and agribusiness companies located in rural areas through establishment of staple crop processing zones.
According to him, staple crop processing zone, which are vast in agro industries zones, enabled with infrastructure, will encourage food industries’ operators to establish factories in rural areas.
Adesina said investment in these areas would reduce the cost of doing business, create huge market pool for farmers and reduce post-harvest losses.
“These staple processing zones will transform rural Africa into new zones of economic prosperity,” he said.
The AfDB chief stressed the need to approach agriculture as a viable business, adding that Africa had no business importing food.
“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.
According to him, development of agricultural value chains will create market opportunities for hundreds of millions of farmers.
“Africa imports 35 billion dollars of food annually. This is expected to rise to about 110 billion dollars by 2025 if current trend continues.
“As it does, Africa decimates its 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 100 per cent electricity across all Africa.
“Imagine what 100 billion dollars savings in food import will do, it is enough to close all infrastructure deficits across 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 markets. Africa exports simply raw materials.
“The price of cocoa may decline but never the price of chocolate; price of cotton May fall but never the price of cotton and apparel.
“The coffee farmer may face declining prices, coffee grinders smile all the way to the market,” he said.
Adesina said that AfDB had committed 24 billion dollars investment to agriculture in the last 10 years toward driving the transformation of agriculture in Africa.
He urged the Federal Government to increase efforts in turning Nigeria to a global powerhouse in agriculture, adding that AfDB believed in Nigeria’s potential.
“What we have to do is unlock these potential because no one eats potential,” Adesina said.
He reiterated the bank’s commitment to aid the country’s diversification agenda through greater investment in agriculture.
“To show our strong support, the AfDB just approved 280 million dollars for the government of Nigeria to support young ‘agripreneurs’ in Nigeria.
“The goal is to support 37 million young graduates, that is, 1000 graduates per states in food production, agribusiness, processing and marketing.
“The AfDB also stood strong by Nigeria and provided 600 million dollars as budget support to help efforts in macro-economic stabilisation.
“Africa can benefit a lot from Nigeria. It will unleash hope for its rural areas as it accelerates agricultural development.
“Nigeria must feed itself and if it fully unlocks its agricultural potentials, Nigeria can help feed Africa,” he said. (NAN)