World News 18/09/2014

Africa spends $35bn importing food annually

The Honourable minister of agriculture and rural development, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, has said that given the abundant endowment in Africa, the continent should not be spending $35billion annually on food importation.

Adesina made this observation in Nairobi, Kenyan capital, during the official launch of the Kenya-Nigeria Agribusiness Forum and the signing of MoU on bilateral trade between the two countries.

“With the unfolding global realities, where you are going to have the greatest impact is in making agriculture a business everywhere in Africa,” the minister posited.

“Whether in seeds, fertilizer, storage, processing or adding value, everything about agriculture is business. That is why I don’t understand how Africa will be spending $35billion every year importing what it produces. It should be producing a lot more. Africa has no business importing food.”

Adesina noted that “Africa should be a dominant player in global food and agricultural market,” adding “we have land and water; we have cheap labour, and so, we should be dominant. We shouldn’t be spending $35billion a year importing what we produce. Because if we do that, we export jobs; we decimate our own rural economy; we fast-track the whole process of rural-urban migration and we have congested cities.”

His Kenyan counterpart, Hon Felix Koskei, lamented the backward state of agriculture in the continent and in Kenya and Nigeria in particular, observing that “the dominance of primary production and marketing in crude forms are common to Nigeria and Kenya. These translate to low prices, few job opportunities and low income for farmers. Changing these will increase the income to our farmers.”

Koskei wondered why Kenyan tea has to make a detour to another African country after first going to Europe. He disclosed that Kenyan tea comes to Nigeria through Europe under different trade names, and called for an end to the trend.

Chairman of Kenya-Nigeria Joint Business Council, Sani Dangote, speaking at the launch said that Nigeria has woken up to transform agriculture from just primary production, adding that the Nigeria Agribusiness group is a united front to address the issues of agriculture to make it private sector driven.

di S. C.