Johannesburg - A new World Bank report says that Africa’s
farmers can potentially grow enough food to feed the continent and avert future
food crises if countries remove cross-border restrictions on the food trade
within the region.
According to the bank‚ the continent would also generate an
extra $20bn in yearly earnings if African leaders could agree to dismantle
trade barriers that blunted more regional dynamism.
The report was released on the eve of an African Union (AU)
ministerial summit in Addis Ababa on agriculture and trade.
With as many as 19 million people living with the threat of
hunger and malnutrition in West Africa’s Sahel region‚ the bank report urges
African leaders to improve trade so that food can move more freely between
countries and from fertile areas to those where communities are suffering food
The World Bank expects demand for food in Africa to double
by the year 2020 as people increasingly leave the countryside and move to the
According to the new report "Africa Can Help Feed
Africa: Removing barriers to regional trade in food staples"‚ rapid
urbanisation will challenge the ability of farmers to ship their cereals and
other foods to consumers when the nearest trade market is just across a
Countries south of the Sahara‚ for example‚ could
significantly boost their food trade over the next several years to manage the
deadly impact of worsening drought‚ rising food prices‚ rapid population
growth‚ and volatile weather patterns.
With many African farmers effectively cut off from the
high-yield seeds‚ and the affordable fertilisers and pesticides needed to
expand their crop production‚ the continent has turned to foreign imports to
meet its growing needs in staple foods.
“Africa has the ability to grow and deliver good quality
food to put on the dinner tables of the continent’s families‚” said Makhtar
Diop‚ World Bank vice president for Africa.
“However‚ this potential is not being realised because
farmers face more trade barriers in getting their food to market than anywhere
else in the world. Too often borders get in the way of getting food to homes
and communities which are struggling with too little to eat.”
The new report suggests that if the continent’s leaders can
embrace more dynamic inter-regional trade‚ Africa’s farmers‚ the majority of
whom are women‚ could potentially meet the continent’s rising demand and
benefit from a major growth opportunity. It would also create more jobs in
services such as distribution‚ while reducing poverty and cutting back on
expensive food imports. Africa’s production of staple foods is worth at least
$50bn a year.