Africa’s agricultural production systems need a radical change

“Regardless of the approach or transformative pathway chosen to change food systems and trade regimes, African countries need to undertake radical change in agricultural production systems, adopt agribusiness and promote regional agricultural value chains as a vein for regional integration.” The statement was made by Stephen Karingi, Director of the ECA’s Regional Integration and Trade Division this week in Cote d’Ivoire, at the opening of a symposium themed: Implementing Agro-Industrialization and Regional Value Chains for Africa’s Agricultural Transformation.

“Despite a handful of landmark political commitments, Africa is the only region in the world that has witnessed an increase in the number of food insecure people and has a mushrooming agricultural and food trade deficit,” said Karingi.

He noted that the food situation continues to worsen in real terms with the number of chronically food insecure reaching 229 million in 2016. “This is about 49 million more people at risk compared to 1990 – almost one of every four in Africa, excluding North Africa,” he said.

Karingi indicated that the progress in the levels of agricultural productivity has been uneven across countries, ranging from an increase of 325pct in Nigeria to a decrease of about 40pct in Zimbabwe and proposed that rethinking agricultural transformation would involve the adoption of a three-pronged approach that should systematically and comprehensively consider three essential elements: farming systems, agribusiness and regional value chains.