Artistic image of paprika foregrounding a newspaper.

The African Breadbasket

This World Food Day, countries are mobilizing behind the Sustainable Development Goals – one of which calls for the elimination of hunger and malnutrition, together with the creation of a more resilient food system, by 2030. This is a daunting challenge; but for Africa, it also represents a major opportunity.

KIGALI – On the first World Food Day in 1945, people around the world celebrated the creation of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the launch of the first coordinated global action to combat hunger. This year, on the 70th World Food Day, countries are mobilizing behind the Sustainable Development Goals – one of which calls for the elimination of hunger and malnutrition by 2030, together with the creation of a more resilient and sustainable food system. Can it be done?

With the world population growing rapidly (to an estimated 8.5 billion by 2030), the impact of climate change becoming increasingly apparent, and the amount of arable land dwindling, there can be no denying that achieving this goal will be a daunting challenge. But for Africa, which boasts 60% of the world’s arable land and climates conducive to a tremendous diversity of crops, striving to do so represents a remarkable opportunity to ensure food security for Africans (one in four is undernourished) and boost its economy by becoming a major food exporter.

Though many African economies have experienced rapid growth in recent years, the agricultural sector has remained stagnant. Indeed, African agriculture is still dominated by small-scale farmers who lack access to productivity-boosting technology, focus mainly on a narrow range of products, and remain poorly linked to markets, manufacturing, and the broader economy. Beyond undermining food security – Africa remains a major food importer – low agricultural productivity contributes to the persistence of rural poverty, even as a middle class emerges in many of Africa’s cities.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.

Subscribe

Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.

http://prosyn.org/KlUJBjD;
  1. solana105_JUANMABROMATAAFPGettyImages Juan Mabromata/AFP/Getty Images

    The Lost Spirit of the G20

    Javier Solana

    As Japan prepares to host its first G20 leaders’ summit later this month, little remains of the open and cooperative spirit that marked the first such gathering in 2008. But although the United States will most likely continue its protectionist drift, other G20 countries should use the occasion to make a clear case for free trade.

  2. velasco94_YoustGettyImages_headswithbooksstaring Youst/Getty Images

    The Experts We Need

    Andrés Velasco

    Policy gurus spend too much time with others like them – top civil servants, high-flying journalists, successful businesspeople – and too little time with ordinary voters. If they could become “humble, competent people on a level with dentists,” as John Maynard Keynes once suggested, voters might identify with them and find them trustworthy.

  3. benami152_KiyoshiOtaPoolGettyImages_trumpmelaniaeatinginJapan Kiyoshi Ota - Pool/Getty Images

    Don’t Feed the Donald

    Shlomo Ben-Ami

    For Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, appeasing US President Donald Trump is not so much a choice as a necessity: he must prove to Japan’s people and their neighbors, particularly the Chinese, that he knows how to keep Trump on his side. But Abe's strategy won't work with a US administration as fickle and self-serving as Trump’s.

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.