Africa has been the “talk of the shop” amongst my ag industry counterparts. After all – if we are going to feed 9 billion people by 2050 – where are we going to produce all of this food?
I read a great article by Andy Vance in Feedstuffs (8/12/12) on developing ag in Africa and he introduced Greg Page – the Cargill CEO – who is leading an effort to raise awareness of the necessity of building an agriculture industry in Africa as the global population moves inexorably toward 9 billion.
"To feed 9 billion people, and particularly to do it with rainfall-based agriculture, we need to bring Africa into the system," Page told Feedstuffs on the sidelines of Faegre Bankers Daniels’ (FBD) 2012 Agriculture Conference last month in Minneapolis, Minn. "Not as a net importer of food, but at least as a continent that can feed its burgeoning population."
Interesting fact: Africa represents 60% of the potentially available cropland on this planet, even though agricultural productivity on the continent is the lowest in the world.
That doesn’t mean it doesn’t come without challenges: "The challenges seem overwhelming," Page wrote, pointing to "unclear property rights; limited access to fertilizer, quality seed and mechanized equipment; inadequate roads and storage facilities; lack of market institutions, and prices that encourage farmers to invest in their operations year after year."
So what does this mean for us? We need to to get involved in Africa. Global ag industry and food policy influencers are needed to help lay the political groundwork on the continent to allow farmers to be successful for the long term. I personally know a farmer who is investing in land in Africa and has been there to help teach locals how to farm it.
I have a feeling we’re going to be hearing a lot more about Africa and Its possible solution to feed 9b.