Africa holds the key for feeding 9 billion people
The President of the African Development Bank and 2017 World Food Prize Laureate, Akinwumi Adesina, said that during his Norman Borlaug Lecture delivered on World Food Day.
The Laureate also called for land tax for unused agricultural land or underutilized agricultural land to provide incentives for faster commercialization of agriculture and unlocking its potential in Africa.
In a lecture titled “Betting on Africa to Feed the World,” delivered on Monday, October 16 before a large international audience at Iowa State University in Des Moines, Iowa, Adesina stressed why, more than ever before, the world must help Africa to rapidly modernize its agriculture and unlock its full potential.
“Africa sits on 65% of the uncultivated arable land left in the world, so what Africa does with agriculture will determine the future of food in the world,” he emphasized. “African farmers need more than a helping hand. They need a policy lift,” Adesina said.
He also highlighted how the challenge of addressing global food security is greatest in Africa where close to 300 million are malnourished. It is also the only region of the world where the proportion of the population that is food insecure has increased, he said.
The AfDB President paid tribute to Dr. Norman Borlaug, whom the lecture series was named after, and recalled how Africa was the last frontier for the late Borlaug.
Borlaug, the Founder of the World Food Prize, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for a lifetime of work to feed a hungry world.
Adesina stressed that despite the progress globally in food production (including in Africa, Latin America and Asia), the world still has 700 million people languishing in extreme poverty.
This, he added, includes 800 million with chronic hunger, 2 billion people with micronutrient deficiency, and 150 million children under 5 years of age who are suffering from stunting.
He described the challenge of feeding the world as immense, with need for rapid increases in global food, feed and biofuel production to feed a global population of 9 billion people by 2050. ■