Adopting agriculture as a business in Africa will make the continent the new frontier for growth in feeding the world, Akinwumi Adesina, Nigeria's Minister of Agriculture told CNBC Africa on Tuesday.
“It’s important for African governments to recognise that agriculture is not a development program, not a developmental activity and it’s not a social sector. Africa today has 60 per cent of all the arable land that’s available in the world, as nobody drinks oil and nobody drinks gas so everybody eats food. Africa is going to be the new frontier for growth in feeding the world,” Adesina said.
Adesina said in the past agriculture was largely driven by governments which resulted in low productivities. He called on African states to revolutionise the sector through agri-business that also incorporates the private sector.
“It cannot be agriculture the way we’ve taken it before it has to be agriculture as a business,” he added.
“Secondly it has to be private sector driven, it cannot be government driven. In the past agriculture was largely driven by government that’s why we saw productivities low and very inefficient. That’s why for example in Nigeria we’ve made a decision not treat it as a development activity but a straight-line business.”
The Minister said it’s important to recognise that agriculture is going usher a new era for the continent’s power to increase foreign exchange markets. Adding that investing in infrastructure and research development like Brazil did should be made key priorities to unlock the power of the agricultural sector.
Adesina said he was optimistic that Africa can leverage on its agricultural potentials by localising the processing stage for value-added benefits and through region integration.
“Take Nigeria for example, we’re the second largest producers of citrus in the world after China and yet we import orange juice. We’re the largest producer of pineapples in Africa yet we import pineapple juice,” he said.
“We must also have regional trade especially in things that we produce, expand markets within the region,not just looking at Europe and the United States, because there’s a huge market in the region.”