7th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7): Invest in Africa’s food markets to win the war on hunger and boost nutrition – African Development Bank
By Otushabire Tibyangye & Agencies.
August 30, 2019/ —
Despite holding 60 percent of the world’s arable land, African countries import nearly $50 billion net of food annually. Yet the population bulge and a rising middle class represent a massive opportunity in terms of agribusiness and the consumer market.
The Vice President of African Development Bank in charge of Agriculture, Human and Social Development Jennifer Blanke has made the observation in a meeting of government heads and representatives currently taking place in Yokohama City Japan.
“There is a business case for governments to invest in grey matter, or brainpower, and this requires much more nutritious diets” Blanke said.
With most people in Africa getting their food from local markets, business opportunities for healthy foods are abound everywhere in the food system. She urged potential investors to engage and explore in which fields to invest especially value addition sector that is still low.
Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in particular play a predominant role in the food supply chains in Africa, but their growth has been slow. “The biggest constraint to their scaling up is lack of access to finance,” Lawrence Haddad, Executive Director of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) said.
By investing in Africa’s food markets, governments can win the fight against stunting and improve nutrition across the continent. And with support from institutions like the African Development Bank (www.AfDB.org), the results would be a win-win situation for all.
“What a huge potential the food markets represent. “Feed Africa,” which is one of the Bank’s High 5 priorities, has nutrition at its core,” Bank Vice President for Agriculture, Human, and Social Development,” Blanke said.
The meeting organized by Global Panel on Agriculture And Food Systems for Nutrition (GPAN) and the African Leaders for Nutrition (ALN) is exploring t ways in which to end malnutrition in Africa dubbed Towards Nutrition for Growth 2020 and beyond.
Thursday at a panel discussion on day two of the 7th Tokyo International Conference on African Development.
The session, organised by the Global Panel on Agriculture & Food Systems for Nutrition (GPAN) & the African Leaders for Nutrition (ALN), was titled Ending Malnutrition in Africa: Towards Nutrition for Growth 2020 & Beyond.
Role of Women and Girls
Earlier on Wednesday, a discussion on empowering women and girls highlighted how that directly benefits Africa’s development agenda.
Ms Toshiko Abe from the ministry of finance from Japan observed that technology, access to finance, education and digital technology can help women leapfrog over many hurdles.
“It is essential that women are empowered to become a vehicle for transforming society,” she said.
Ms Blanke said women in agriculture were an overlooked stakeholder group. In many parts of Africa most farmers are women. As a result of this ADB has established an affirmative action for women in Africa initiative known as AFAWA which seeks to support women entrepreneurs.
“ Through AFAWA the African Development Bank aims to raise at least $300 million for a guarantee facility that will spur lending of ten times at much (around $3 billion) to African women entrepreneurs. We can even leverage for more, she said.