Food products in the market
FSDH Securities Limited has said that with appropriate policies to aid commercial farming in Nigeria and develop agro-allied industries, the country would be able to help Africa in achieving food security.
The investment and research firm stated this in its latest weekly report titled: “Urgent Need to increase agricultural productivity.”
Nigeria accounts for about 16 per cent of the continent’s population, with its arable land constituting about 75 per cent of its total land area. Currently, agricultural sector of the Nigerian economy contributes about 40 per cent to its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employs, directly or indirectly, more than 70 per cent of the working population.
“This means that Nigeria has the potentials to contribute meaningfully to the food security in Africa,” the firm said.
FSDH pointed out that the African Development Bank (AfDB) had in a report, warned that there was the urgent need for the African continent to increase its agricultural productivity in order to keep pace with its growing urban population.
The regional development bank had also added that regional infrastructure development could play a key role toward improving food security in Africa.
“The food supply problems in Africa are worsened by the phenomenon of rapid urban expansion and the concentration of irrigation flows to regional capitals. Africa has the fastest growing population in the world growing at about 3.3 per cent per annum; and if current trend continue by 2050 more than half of the continent’s population will be living in cities,” the report said.
According to the report, rural productivity in Sub-Saharan Africa ranks among the lowest in the developing world. This, it said is caused by a broad spectrum of factors, including: extreme climatic conditions; the persistence of traditional methods of subsistence farming rather than using high tech inputs; and low investment in rural infrastructure, amongst others.
“The extreme climatic conditions that normally affect the continent often result in the loss of harvests and livestock, and this can lead to large scale famine and massive displacement of populations. Conflicts affecting various African countries have also led to massive migrations of displaced population to neighbouring countries, which also causes severe food shortages and increased vulnerability.
“Alongside these risks, the continent has to overcome another disadvantage in its pattern of trade, which is characterised by a large scale export of cash crops, together with the import of manufactured food commodities, which are subject to high price volatilities, further increasing the risk of food shortage,” it added.
The report noted that the root cause of Africa’s food security situation is the poor and disconnected state of much of its infrastructure network.
“Subsistence rain-fed farming provides livelihoods for most of the rural population, but it is mostly undertaken in remote areas without access to urban markets or to agricultural inputs. This constrains agricultural productivity on a large scale and prevents rural farmers from transitioning from self-sufficiency to commercial farming, as a means of exiting poverty,” the report stated.