One Trillion Arguments for African Agriculture
Why is agriculture such a critical field of action? To begin with, two-thirds of Africans work in agriculture, the sector responsible for Africa’s food security. On a continent with our rich natural resources and human capital, it makes absolutely no sense for Africans to be importing so much of our food from elsewhere in the world. We should be supplying it to ourselves. This is a massive market and a massive opportunity. The World Bank estimates it will be worth $1 trillion by 2030!
If I were going into business today, and looking at the market opportunities for African food producers and Africa’s incredible endowment of natural resources and human capital, I would choose agriculture over telecommunications.
This is the goal and the inspiration for the Africa Food Prize: When our action heroes complete their missions, every African consumer will enjoy better access to affordable, nutritious food — grown and supplied by African farmers and African food companies. This means new job opportunities and higher incomes for rural Africa. This in turn will fuel wider economic expansion, benefiting everyone, but especially the poor. This is something boom-bust oil economies just can’t deliver.
A Food Prize and the Path to Prosperity
Past winners like Kaduru and Sibanda are the kind of heroes Africa needs today. There are so many others. For example, last year African leaders selected Akinwumi Adesina, a 2007 Yara prize winner, to be president of the African Development Bank. A champion for “impact at scale” across Africa, Adesina served as Nigeria´s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development where, among many reforms, he introduced pioneering technology to help curb corruption and improve access to inputs for rural farmers, and especially women.
A couple of years ago, a few young entrepreneurs in Nigeria launched a new series of comic books books featuring something novel: African superheroes. It’s my hope that one day soon, we will be telling the real-life stories of the “action heroes” of the Africa Food Prize, and how their amazing feats helped conquer the evils of hunger, climate change, poverty and unemployment.
Strive Masiyiwa is the Board Chair, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and Executive Chairman and Founder of Econet Wireless