Viewpoint: Patient Capital for African Agriculture Gives Back Far More Than It Receives
By Adesuwa Ifedi and Jehiel Oliver
In 2021, global hunger surpassed all previous records, with close to 193 million people acutely food insecure. This crisis is worsening, and African countries are at its epicenter. Eight of 12 countries forecast to have more than 3 million people in food crisis in 2022 are in Africa.
While immediate aid is needed, the long-term solution in Africa is to boost domestic production. Indeed, the continent could be food sufficient through times of war and peace, boom and bust but today its huge agricultural potential is being overlooked. This is not for lack of urgency but for lack of patience – patience on the part of investors who may still shy from making long-term investments in African agriculture.
Let’s take mechanization as an example: African farming today remains the least mechanized in the world. Globally there are roughly 200 tractors per 100 square kilometers of agriculture lands, but in sub-Saharan Africa, there are only about 27. Changing that would go a long way in closing the deep productivity gap between African farms and farms in rich countries. Closing that gap could increase the global supply of cereals, grains, and vegetable crops by a stunning 20 percent.