Zambia in top league of potential food producers


ZAMBIA is among six African countries with agricultural potential to drive a lucrative market for food products that could be worth US$1 trillion by 2030, says a new report released at the on going Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) conference.

According to the report, evidence from Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia found urban households control 15 to 35 percent of Africa’s farmlands.

In the report, which was released this week at the on-going AGRA 2016 conference, urban consumers were on the increase in these six countries while driving a lucrative market for food products that could be worth US$1 trillion by 2030, generating significant income and employment opportunities for African farmers and food companies.

The report, however, records that countries faced challenges of injecting more capital and technology into African agriculture.

It also reported that obtaining financing for production improvements remained a major challenge for rural Africans.

“While the report notes promising development of products like crop insurance tied to weather indexes, farm loan programmes that share the risk among many participants and innovative uses of mobile banking services and micro finance, only about 6 percent of rural households in sub-Saharan Africa are borrowing from a formal financial institution,” says the report.

In the report, Africa in 2016 was described as ultimately a continent making notable progress toward realising its agricultural potential, but one that still had a long way to go.

“Africa’s ambitious goals for eradicating hunger and dramatically reducing poverty by 2030 are attainable. But fulfilling them requires strong political leadership at home that is backed by solid commitments from donor countries and international institutions and robust investments from the private sector,” read the report.

AGRA president Agnes Kalibata said the last 10 years had made a strong case for agriculture as the surest path to producing sustainable economic growth that was felt in all sectors of society, particularly among poor Africans.

“Many governments face significant budget constraints and far too many farming families continue to lack basic inputs, like improved seeds or fertilizers.

‘‘But the evidence is clear: When we invest in our farmers and in all the things they need to succeed, good things happen across the economy,” she said.