Magazine article New African

Ensuring Food Security in Africa: Four African Heads of State Were Invited to Camp David, USA, for Last Month's G8 Summit. the Leaders of Ethiopia, Benin, Tanzania, and Ghana Were Invited to Discuss One Issue in Particular: Food Security. Africa Has All the Ingredients to Feed Itself and the World, but Food Security Has Been a Perennial Problem for the Continent

Magazine article New African

Ensuring Food Security in Africa: Four African Heads of State Were Invited to Camp David, USA, for Last Month's G8 Summit. the Leaders of Ethiopia, Benin, Tanzania, and Ghana Were Invited to Discuss One Issue in Particular: Food Security. Africa Has All the Ingredients to Feed Itself and the World, but Food Security Has Been a Perennial Problem for the Continent

Article excerpt

APRICA HAPPENS TO BE THE continent with the most arable land in the world. In fact it has 60% of the world's available cropland. Statistically, Africa receives enough rainfall per year to feed 9 billion people.

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Yet Africa is still a net importer of food, with Egypt being the world's biggest importer of wheat, and Nigeria the world's biggest importer of tomato paste, even as 300,000 metric tonnes of tomatoes perish across the country every year.

Interestingly, agriculture dominates the economies of most African countries, including large oil producers such as Nigeria. But yields remain the lowest in the world. As stated in the UNDP-commissioned Africa Human Development Report 2012, "countries must put into place policies which provide farmers with the inputs, infrastructure, and incentives that will enable them to lift productivity".

Incidentally, the solutions to drive a green revolution in Africa are well known and have been well documented. These include using more sophisticated seeds and fertilisers, educating farmers to better utilise the land, giving farmers better access to markets, turning agriculture into a business for smallholder farmers through giving them title deeds and thus enabling them to raise funds for the inputs needed to improve yields; and moving up the economic value chain from subsistence to commercial producers.

At a recent conference hosted by Morocco's OCP, (Morocco's largest company specialising in the phosphate industry) discussants repeated that there was no good reason Africa could not claim the next green revolution. The OCP is the world's largest exporter of phosphate, a key ingredient in the production of fertilisers.

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OCP's senior managers are confident that with greater African cooperation, the continent can become a world producer of fertilisers. The three common ingredients in fertiliser production are phosphate (which Africa has in abundance), sulphur, and ammonia (a gas derivative). Strangely, gas is so abundant in Africa that it is flared along the West African coast.

OCP is increasingly looking to Africa as a growth market, especially with its new, cost-effective fertiliser specifically designed for West African soils. Called Teractiv, the new fertiliser is suitable for crops such as cotton, cocoa, and corn.

OCP is investing $1bn to increase fertiliser production by one million tonnes per year. …

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