Africa has a great potential not only to feed itself and eliminate hunger and food insecurity but also to be a global player in the food market. Agriculture forms a large portion of the economies of all African countries. As a sector it can contribute towards major continental priorities such as eradicating poverty and hunger, rapid industrialisation and creation of jobs. However Africa is seen with a begging bowl in order to feed its people. As a continent favoured with large bodies of water like Lake Victoria, Lake Mweru and Lake Malawi coupled with large rivers, Africa should be food sufficient. It is how Africa choses to use this God given resource to its advantage. In fact besides these water bodies Africa continues to be short of food with thousands of people dying of hunger in Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan and many others needing food aid in Central and Southern Africa.
Experts say unless African governments prioritize agriculture, Africa will always remain food insecure.
In order to mitigate this problem, African governments through their continental body the African Union should come up with policies which will bind governments to prioritise agriculture. Africa has a lot of virgin land which if utilised would lead to an increase in its hectrage under production. The DRC in Central Africa together with its neighbouring countries have thousands of hectares which are not utilised economical which could turn the economies of these Central African countries around. A deliberate effort to use the water of the mighty Congo River for irrigation will help to improve the life styles of these people. Apart from all this the rainfall pattern of Central Africa is perfect for agriculture. It rains almost three quarters of the year in this region making the region an ideal agricultural hub.
Further west, the countries of West Africa whose staple food are yams produce cocoa which has seen their economies prosper. Ghana is the largest cocoa producing country in the world. This has created employment and industrialisation in Ghana. Apart from all this country, the country has managed to be food sufficient.
The same is said of those countries in the Maghreba Region which is North Africa, countries like Egypt, Tunisia, Lybia, Morocco and Algeria are doing well. Egypt has continued to produce food for its people using the water of the Nile. The Nile valley which is the agriculture centre of Egypt strives on irrigation. The country has invested heavily on irrigation equipment which has seen it produce in abundance. The spill offs of this investment is seen in industrialisation, transport and communication and other sectors of the economy. Despite being a desert country Egypt fares better than most African countries of one of Africa’s biggest economy.
Further down south, countries like South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique, Malawi, Tswane, Lesotho, Angola, Zambia and Zimbabwe are favoured with good soils and boast of savannah grasslands which are good for cattle breeding. Again the region is ideal for cotton, tobacco and many crops. South Africa which is the biggest economy in this region boasts of mechanised farms which produce a variety of crops throughout the year. The country is self-sufficient when it comes to food and manages to export its excess to Europe and neighbouring countries. Zimbabwe which has just seen a revival of its agriculture is ranked the biggest producer of tobacco in Africa and is ranked 2nd after Brazil in the world. The country is also into cotton production which has enjoyed government support. The other countries in the region produce maize and other small grains with Malawi producing rice. Zimbabwe produces a third of its wheat requirement with the rest being imported into the country. The country has a potential of producing enough wheat to carter for its needs and export the surplus if its wheat cropping is not disturbed by erratic power cuts which affect water pumping for irrigation. However the region is drought prawn with droughts affecting the region almost every 5 years. The region could be Africa’s bread basket if resources are poured into agriculture. Currently governments in the region have come up with ways to consolidate their farming and improve the existing structures in countries like Zimbabwe and South Africa. While in Zambia Malawi and Mozambique there is need to intensify irrigation to enhance productivity.
Botswana on the other end is a country which is more into cattle production. This has enabled it to be a leader in the region in this regard. South Africa and Zimbabwe are also meat producing nations. Botswana exports its meat to Europe the same with South Africa while Zimbabwe cannot export due to the export ban imposed on it by the European Union.
As can be seen Africa is capable of feeding itself without relying on hand-outs from foreign donors. At the same time more industries to deal with the primary produce can be started thus creating employment. Agriculture is the backbone of the African economy and it is expected to grow tremendously with the support of its governments.