Agriculture Business Development Science and Technology

Food processing an avenue for youth employment, development

Dr. Ousmane Badiane, Executive Chairperson, AKADEMIYA2063

By Hillary Munedzi

Africa’s emerging processing sector faces a myriad of challenges including limited access to finance and poor infrastructure. As a panacea, calls have been made to create a conducive environment to attract tech-savvy youths.

A new report launched in Harare during the 2022 Regional Strategic Analysis and Knowledge Support System (ReSAKSS) conference illustrated how the agrifood processing sector can deliver greater economic growth across the continent.

The Russia-Ukraine war has affected the food supply in Africa driving sub-Saharan Africa into extreme hunger. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will cause 40 million people to become food insecure and the region will be hardest hit.

The report highlights the importance of Africa’s processing sector in connecting farmers and urban consumers, with processed foods set to make up 73 percent of African diets by 2040.

The authors of a new report on progress towards Africa’s continent-wide development agenda illustrate how the agrifood processing sector can deliver greater economic growth across the continent. The report highlights the rapid changes in Africa’s food system, with value chains becoming more complex and high-value food products accounting for larger shares of consumers’ diets.

“The emerging agri-food industry sector is the main bridge today between smallholder producers and the rapidly expanding urban food markets. Without a competitive processing sector that is capable of innovations to meet the increasingly complex dietary preferences of the growing urban middle class, domestic producers will have little chance of capturing any meaningful share of the rising food demand across the continent Effective processing sector policies must be at the center of future smallholder agricultural and rural development strategies,” said Dr. Ousmane Badiane, Executive Chairperson, AKADEMIYA2063.

The emerging processing sector can better connect smallholder farmers and domestic markets, the report argues, with the distance between farmers and consumers no longer primarily a physical distance, but one of production sophistication.

“The agrifood processing sector in Africa has significant untapped potential to deliver greater prosperity and security for the continent’s smallholder farmers – while reducing the amount of food the region imports at the same time,” said Dr. Anxious Jongwe Masuka, Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, and Rural Development, Zimbabwe.

With Zimbabwe leading the world’s top ten countries worst affected by domestic food price inflation, the introduction of improved production and processing practices could raise yields substantially and, improve market conditions and incomes for small-scale producers.

“With the right policies backed by scientific evidence, Africa’s emerging food processing sector can grow to deliver a triple-win for small-scale producers, consumers, and economic development across the continent,” said Her Excellency Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko, Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Development, African Union Commission.

ReSAKSS Was established in 2006 under the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), the Regional Strategic Analysis and Knowledge Support System (ReSAKSS) supports efforts to promote evidence and outcome-based policy planning and implementation. In particular, ReSAKSS provides data and related analytical and knowledge products to facilitate CAADP benchmarking, review, and mutual accountability processes

 

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Byron Adonis Mutingwende