Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), says Africa would feed itself and feed the world by becoming a net exporter of food by the year 2025.
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Speaking at the World Bank/IMF meeting in Washington, Adesina, who was represented by Kapil Kapoor, AFDB acting vice-president for operations, said two billion people are undernourished while another two billion are obese.
“We need to look afresh at agriculture in Africa as a series of systems, and to see it not as a way of life, but a business,” Kapoor said while speaking on ‘The Future of Food’.
He said the challenges of food and agriculture were global, and lamented the effect of waste.
“While two billion people in the world are undernourished, two billion are obese or overweight.
The world wastes one-third of the food it produces,” he said “How is it that the continent with two-thirds of the world’s arable land and plentiful water resources, struggles to feed its own people – to the extent that it imports US $35 billion of food a year – and creates so little agricultural produce?”
He announced the continent-wide strategy to ‘Feed Africa’, which he said will be explained at the AfDB’s annual meeting in Lusaka, Zambian capital, from May 23, 2016.
“The strategy is in part the result of new and holistic thinking among our partners in government,” he said.
“Last October, in Dakar, the bank convened a ‘Feed Africa’ conference which brought together ministers of agriculture, finance and health in an almost unprecedented move to see agriculture across all its component parts, at the nexus of health, economic growth, and a sustainable planet.
“The goal is nothing if not ambitious: we believe that by 2025, the continent of Africa can be a net exporter, not an importer, of food.
“Africa has a huge matrix of players in agriculture, but little coordination. And the role of the private sector is key: every conversation we have with governments is essentially a conversation with and about the role of the private sector. It is the private sector which will bring about change.” ■