The value of agricultural exports from Thailand, which has less than 10 percent of Sub-Saharan Africa’s population, is now greater than for the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa.
No country better exemplifies Africa's agricultural decline than Nigeria. In the 1960s, before the oil bonanza, this was one of the most promising food producers in the world, beating the likes of Malaysia and Indonesia in palm oil, and the US and Argentina in groundnuts. It provided 18 percent of global cocoa production, a figure down to 8 percent today. And while it produces 65 percent of tomatoes in western central Africa, it is now the largest importer of tomato paste (from China and Italy).
In an interview with This is Africa at the World Economic Forum in Cape Town last week, the minister for agriculture, Akinwumi Adesina, reeled off these statistics with regret. "Nigeria has transited from being a self-sufficient country in food to being a net importing country, spending $11bn importing rice and fish and sugar and so on. It just makes absolutely no sense to me at all”.
While Nigeria is second in the world in citrus production and Africa’s biggest pineapple producer, its supermarkets are stocked with concentrated, imported products of both. “The only local content is water from Nigeria,” the minister complains. Multinationals testify to the challenges of agricultural import-dependence in their local operations. “We have thirteen factories in Africa that use products like soft oils, tomatoes or starch-based compounds on a daily basis, but much of this is imported, wasting foreign exchange and increasing our carbon footprint,” says Marc Engel, chief procurement officer at Unilever. The company owns the largest soap factory in Africa, but have to import palm oil from Asia to keep it running, and they import sorbitol from China for their local oral care products, when cassava would do the job.
Monday, May 20, 2013
staggering statistics on Africa's food deficit
courtesy of This is Africa: