Africa imports $50b food annually

AFRICAN countries import nearly $50 billion net of food annually despite the continent holding 60 per cent of the world’s arable land, the African Development Bank (AfDB) has said.

The bank’s Vice President for Agriculture, Human, and Social Development, Jennifer Blanke, stated this during a panel discussion at the 7th Tokyo International Conference, which ended in Yokohama, Japan at the weekend

The theme of the conference was: “Advancing Africa’s Development through People, Technology, and Innovation.’’

Blanke said investing in Africa’s food markets, governments could win the fight against stunting and improve nutrition across the continent.

She added that with support from institutions like the AfDB, the results would be a win-win situation for all.

“There is a business case for governments to invest in grey matter, or brainpower, and this requires much more nutritious diets.

“With most people in Africa getting their food from local markets, business opportunities for healthy foods abound everywhere in the food system and potential investors are urged to engage and explore,” he said.

Blanke, however, added that women in agriculture were an overlooked stakeholder group, saying that in most parts of Africa, most farmers were women.

She explained that the bank’s Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa initiative known as AFAWA, sought to support women entrepreneurs in Africa.

According to her, through AFAWA the AfDB aimed to raise at least 300 million dollars for a guarantee facility will spur lending to African women entrepreneurs.

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