Editor's Note

Greg Penfold

greg penfold.jpg

Businesses are waking up to the opportunities of a rapidly growing food market in Africa, which may be worth more than that may be worth more than R15 trillion each year by 2030. According to the latest Africa Agriculture Status Report (AASR), agriculture is a quiet revolution in the making. SMMEs and smallholder farmers will create the high productivity jobs and sustainable economic growth that extractive industries have signally failed to deliver. The key is an inclusive approach to transformation to goes beyond the farm to agri-business. Millions of small famrs have to be linked to agribusinesses in order to create extended food supply chains and employment opportunities. This approach contrasts to the norm that applies in established industrial agriculture, which is capital intensive and employs relatively few people. while also contributing to horrific animal cruelty.

By improving the productivity and global competitiveness of its agribusiness and agriculture sectors, Africa can feed itself with food grown in Africa. The private sector is key in effecting this transformation, but government support is needed to both stimulate and guide the transition. The first priority is the creation of an enabling business environment. Measures such as s increasing infrastructure investment in secondary cities and towns, improving the reliability of energy and water supplies, building more wholesale market spaces, promoting open regional trade, identifying and investing in first mover crops and introducing stricter standards for food safety and quality can help nurture a globally competitive food production sector.

Innovative financing and insurance provision can be provided by new private public partnerships. Improved financial regulations, better credit-reporting processes, special economic zones, digital warehouse receipt systems and sharing risk with lenders through credit guarantees and matching funds are further measures that government can facilitate.

Smart support such as satellite tracking and big data can be used to find new high value agri-economic zones and drive smarter financing and food security polices. This is especially relevant in the face of climate change.

In short, Africa as a whole has to turn from net food importer to exporter. Does South Africa have the political will to meet the challenge?

email: greg@capemedia.co.za

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