Africa must cut reliance on food imports, says Nigerian billionaire
By MICHELLE KERR
31 October 2018
A major African food exporter has urged policymakers at the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to put food production and consumption on the back burner in favour of “reallocation of finite fossil and non-renewable resources” to the agricultural sector.
In a statement issued to Global Policy, Dr. Suleiman Ibrahim, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Ibrahim Group, said: “The focus on consumption and the neglect of production is a recipe for malnutrition and a catastrophe for the future of the African continent.”
“We should put the priority on growing food surpluses to support food security and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, rather than producing, processing food for the global market and the people. This is the way forward for Africa and the world at large,” he said.
The FAO’s recent report on ‘Agriculture and related sectors: 2018 review’ noted that by “increasing food production from 15 percent in 2016 to 20 percent by 2030” would require “an unprecedented leap of almost 60 percent of the global agricultural production to be produced in sub-Saharan Africa by 2050, which would represent a 20-fold increase over the previous decade.”
The review was conducted in the context of the UN Climate Summit at the UN headquarters in New York last week and at the Africa-European Union Summit at the UN headquarters in New York on September 23.
The FAO “agreed on a number of recommendations based on its findings, including to continue supporting and promoting agricultural research and development and capacity building and to increase the number of smallholder farmers through training programs and research and development”.
However, Ibrahim noted that “the report of the FAO, as well as global and regional assessments”, had also noted challenges to African agriculture, which were “on the agenda of leaders at the UN.”
“But the focus of the report was on the sustainability of the current level of production in Africa. Africa’s agricultural sector should not be judged by