Experts trace link betwwen food pressure and poverty
By Nsikan Ikpe
Concern is rising within and outside Africa over the debilitating effect of the continent’s humongous food imports bill, The Difference has learnt.
According to Mr Kanayo Nwanze, the Nigerian-born President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), says Africa spends $35 billion a year on food importation.
This was contained in a statement issued by the IFAD and made available to the newsmen in Abuja this week.
The statement quoted Nwanze as making the disclosure at the opening of a three-day African Union-European Union Conference of Ministers of Agriculture, tagged: ‘Investing in a Food Secure Future.’
He said that the conference, which was convened by the Government of The Netherlands, would discuss how to deepen cooperation between Africa and Europe to mutually invest in food and nutrition security.
Nwanze said that investing more in Africa’s rural areas will stem the flow of economic migrants and minimise the acts of desperation that makes the continent’s newspaper headlines.
“People are leaving the rural areas of Africa because they can’t find jobs or feed their families and the ripple effects are felt here in Europe.
“The irony is that Africa spends $35 billion a year on food importation; it is time to stop creating jobs in other countries and redirect that investment to their own agricultural transformation,” Nwanze was quoted as saying.
He added that Africa had enormous potentials and contained half of the world’s uncultivated land suitable for growing food crops, saying that only five per cent of it was irrigated.
The president said that Africa could easily double its productivity in the next five years simply by making better use of its existing farmland.
He explained that this could turn farming into a sustainable and profitable business and lift millions of rural Africans out of poverty.
The IFAD president added that lifting millions out of poverty would make migration a choice rather than a necessity.