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A growing population, increasing pressure on the continent’s arable land, dilapidated infrastructure and the growing threat posed by climate change all endanger Africa’s food security. Despite having 60% of the world’s uncultivated land, Africa remains a net importer of food.

“Agriculture is an important driver of growth. It creates jobs and provides a level of food security,” Omnia Group CEO Seelan Gobalsamy said in his opening remarks of a recent forum held at GIBS to discuss transforming African agriculture.

Collaboration to effect change

The African agricultural sector holds immense potential to play a pivotal role in ensuring food security on a global scale to address global food supply challenges.

Collaborative efforts within the sector and between governments across the SADC region and Africa are essential to foster a supportive ecosystem that empowers African farmers.

The CEO of Green Terrace and an award-winning farmer and entrepreneur, Mbali Nwoko, said a collaborative approach is needed across the agriculture industry to effect policy change.
“The industry must be able to fight back as a collective against price spikes, such as fertiliser and fuel, that affect the entire value chain as well as consumers.” The industry must work together to make food affordable and safe for consumers, while remaining competitive, she added.

“Africa has enormous potential, but we don’t have a good track record of cross-border collaboration,” economist and research fellow Francois Fouché said.

The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) is a framework agreement that aims to remove barriers to intra-African trade and investment. However, trade between states on the continent is not prevented by tariffs, but rather by non-tariff barriers such as derelict infrastructure and processing times and costs at borders, Fouché explained.

“Currently, external trade hurdles with countries outside of Africa are lower than those within Africa,” he said.

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