Food Security in Africa
For a long period, the question of if Africa will ever be food-secure has bogged the minds of stakeholders and policymakers. With food production that is predominantly rainfed, the dry season ushers in a period of scarcity of many commodities. This leads to a rise in food prices, making many commodities out of reach for many people on the continent.
Even though Africans consume a wide range of food, there are commodities that are central to the diet in large parts of Africa. Availability of these “core” commodities will be the first major step in ensuring food security on the continent. These commodities are the subject of this article.
Why should you farm these commodities?
These commodities have high demand among consumers than any other foods. They are consumed at least once a day in most African countries. While other commodities experience a lack of market, farmers growing these core foods rarely face the problem of lack of market due to the sheer demand from consumers. This in itself is security for farmers as they are sure of a market upon harvest.
Other factors also make farming these core commodities attractive. A rise in population in Africa, urbanization, and increasing earnings of the average African are the main factors that power the high demand for these commodities.
5 Commodities that will determine the future of food security in Africa
Maize is an important commodity in Africa. It is a staple food in several African countries. Even in countries where it is not a staple, maize is still among the most consumed foods. The importance of maize goes above and beyond the human diet. Maize is also an essential ingredient of animal feeds. Livestock feeds rely on maize as a source of energy and fiber for animals. The same applies to poultry feeds.
The implication of this is that availability of maize is central to the good performance of most of the agricultural sector. Even though maize farming is not one of the most profitable farming niches in Africa, it is a necessary venture that will help to safeguard Africa’s food security.
Learn more about maize farming in Africa.
Irish potatoes are among the staple food crops of Africa. With Africa’s increasing population, comes an increased demand for Irish potatoes. Apart from being served in homes, Irish potatoes play an integral role in the hotel and restaurant industry in Africa. Potatoes are used to make different foods that are loved in Africa. Particularly, fries are the most popular Irish potato product. To underline the importance of Irish potatoes, countries like Kenya are enacting laws and regulations to streamline and regulate the industry.
Learn more about potato farming in Africa.
Cassavas are root tuber crops that are high in energy, fiber, and nutrients. Cassava is highly consumed in countries in West Africa, Central Africa, and Southern Africa. In East Africa, cassava is mainly consumed as a maize substitute when there is a shortage of the latter in the market.
There are several cassava varieties that take between 6 months to 1 year to reach maturity. The improved varieties take a shorter period of time and have a higher yield per acre. Africa is the biggest producer of cassava in the world. Most of the production is consumed in Africa, highlighting the importance of the crop to food security in Africa.
Learn more about cassava farming in Africa.
Fish is highly ingrained in the diet of Africans. The drawback of this demand is that natural fishing water bodies have been overfished in the recent past. This has resulted in a drop in fish populations. Climate change has also adversely affected lakes and rivers that are breeding grounds for fish.
The growth of the aquaculture industry to try and cover this gap must be applauded. However, there are questions on whether fish farmers will be able to fulfill the demand for fish in Africa. As an affordable source of protein, fish will be essential in not only ensuring food security but also providing good nutrition.
Learn more about fish farming in Africa.
Eggs are the cheapest source of proteins in most African countries. Retailing from 10 cents to 15 cents, eggs are within the financial reach of many. To this effect, eggs are among the fast-selling food commodities in Africa. The demand for eggs, like the other core commodities we have discussed, is projected to increase over the coming years.
This industry is however facing the problem of rising production costs. The cost of poultry feeds is rising to unsustainable levels. Farmers are being discouraged from rear chickens due to these costs.
Learn more about chicken farming in Africa.
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