By Sunny Nwachukwu
Food security is an important governmental policy for sustainable growth and development, and also a necessary life support measure for food availability through agriculture within Africa. Record has shown that Africa’s annual food imports were over $90 billion in 2019. Such volume of money spent on foods for the continental food needs is very alarming and unsustainable; especially for the continent that has up to 60 percent of world’s free arable land. The African countries are therefore, enjoined to follow food production plan that shall reverse the trend and create a food sufficiency network scheme amongst nations to completely mitigate this very unattractive economic loss.
One of the steps that can be taken is by boosting agricultural productivity in Africa. Food crops and other commercial agricultural produce could be massively cultivated in the nations of Africa according to the respective available naturally endowed comparative advantages and potential their respective climatic conditions offer. This identified step can be leveraged and improved upon, through recovery of agricultural productions from farmers that are using poor and improper post-harvest storage methods to optimize yields and reduce wastes. Another aspect is the efficient accessibility of food markets by small holder farmers, to sell harvested agricultural products and equally avoid wastes. It is necessary to remark that along the foods value chain, efficient supply chain that connects these small holder farmers to designated food markets would tremendously boost the expected productivity in the economies of these African nations.
The growth potentials in agribusiness in the continent lie greatly on cultivating and exploiting the over 60 percent world’s idle arable land within the continent. Agricultural foods supply chains in Africa, if properly structured and carefully implemented, can generate huge and attractive revenues through exports for the affected economies in the continent. Africans and the governments of each and every nation within the continent should rise up and do much exploits through cultivation and utilizing every opportunity nature has provided as the needed resources to develop agriculture, and then take the position of the world’s food basket as well as the global agricultural hub for exports. Africa needs to properly position well on the agriculture value chain in the supply network to service the raw material needs of the advanced economies.
COVID-19 pandemic has thrown open the level of importance of food availability for humans. The different developed economies have spent and generously lavished with love, billions of dollars on foods made available for their citizens as palliatives during the lockdown strategic war against the global scourge. The food palliatives by different countries that genuinely spent fortunes on their citizens, directly points to the significant importance of food to life. It therefore indicates that agribusiness is an essential economic activity in all economies. The generous gesture to the vulnerable homes against hunger by different governments during the lockdown period proved that every economy shall be ready to sacrifice volumes of money to support programmes for food security and its sustainability in their respective economies.
At this stage in economic building, Greenhouse farming method could equally be suggested alongside the existing traditional farming modes by the small holder farmers. This could be officially packaged specifically for women entrepreneurs, cooperatives and SMEs that are formally registered for specific agribusinesses with the relevant bodies and arms of the government that work towards economic realization of food security. Among the participants, the free and idle arable land could be deployed and engaged for such farming programme, which ultimately aims towards achieving the targeted food sustainable goal. Many countries through such resilience will diligently start observing the expected inward integration impact on foods import in their programmes and respective international trade records.
This strategy by which agricultural products are no longer encouraged to be imported should be harnessed and vigorously pursued like never before. COVID-19 has indeed been an eye opener for various governments to see the importance of food to life based on the huge resources spent by them on palliatives for their citizens. It has also offered an opportunity for economies to exploit, by engaging every available space and endowed resource within the natural environment to embark on food production through agriculture.
This attractive opportunity for economic growth and food security should be tapped by the nations within the continent, making sure that all apparatus of the agricultural extension farming in the governmental structures are fully utilized. Economic growth and development through agriculture for food security within the continent is paramount, if Africa must survive in the current age of rapid development through artificial intelligence, which can never replace food for life sustainability.