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Unlocking Africa’s Farming Potential: A Call for Better Infrastructure

Energizing the Harvest: Powering Africa’s Agricultural Ascension through Infrastructure

Africa is on the brink of becoming a farming giant, blessed with fertile lands, a vast agricultural workforce, and ample space for farming expansion. Yet, the continent still imports food in large quantities. A stunning $110 billion will be spent on food imports by 2025, despite Africa’s potential to produce food abundantly.

One major hurdle is the lack of infrastructure needed to transport, store, and process agricultural goods. Over one-third of Africa’s food production is wasted due to these challenges, according to the World Resources Institute. This situation discourages investment in food production and hampers Africa’s ability to produce higher-value processed foods.

Addressing Infrastructure Gaps

Investing in agriculture has been overlooked by African governments, yet it’s crucial for enhancing the continent’s economic wellbeing. For example, increasing agricultural output by 10% can reduce poverty among smallholder farmers by 8%. However, investments will only make sense if the right processing facilities are in place.

To improve food production, it’s essential to first develop basic infrastructure like roads, which will help farmers get their produce to market. Currently, many rural Africans face lengthy trips to the nearest market. Additionally, expanding irrigation and improving electricity access are vital, especially for enabling cold storage and processing activities.

Off-grid solar power has potential, especially for remote farming operations, but investments have been hindered by the low tariffs that governments want to maintain. Despite these challenges, innovative payment models for solar energy could unlock new opportunities in agricultural processing.

Investment in Nigeria

Nigeria is making strides with new investments in agro-processing. Valency Agro Nigeria has recently launched a facility in Ibadan that will significantly aid in storing and processing agricultural products like cashew nuts and cocoa. This initiative not only aims to reduce food wastage but also supports local food security and export capabilities.

The facility, backed by a $15 million investment, also explores the use of agricultural byproducts, offering a sustainable alternative to traditional raw materials.

Encouraging Cluster Development

Creating agri-processing clusters is essential for fostering growth in this sector. These clusters can draw investment by concentrating related businesses in one area, offering a comprehensive range of services along the value chain.

Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZ) in Nigeria, supported by various development partners, aim to develop value chains for specific crops, demonstrating the potential of focused investment in conducive locations.

The Way Forward

To truly unlock Africa’s agricultural capabilities, private investment must be encouraged alongside public and developmental support. The success of Africa’s agriculture will depend on both its natural resources and the development of supporting infrastructures like factories and warehouses.

By AB

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