AfDB announces innovative plan to increase Africa’s agri-exports

Most of the human population lives on a diet based on one or more of the following staples: cereals, roots and tubers, and animal products such as meat, milk, eggs, cheese and fish.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) last week announced plans to create staple crops processing zones (SCPZs) in African countries to help them become net exporters of processed foods and commodities.

Africa currently spends more than US$35 billion annually on food imports, which the bank believes could rise to US$110 billion by 2025 if current trade trends continue.

Additionally, agriculture provides employment for 61% of the population on the continent but accounts for only 25% of its GDP. The SCPZs are expected to narrow this gap and boost opportunities for rural and commercial farmers.

“I am convinced that just as industrial parks helped China, so the SCPZs will contribute to creating new economic zones in rural areas that will help lift hundreds of millions out of poverty through the transformation of agriculture into a viable and profitable business that will unleash new sources of wealth,” said AfDB president, Akinwumi Adesina.

He projected that the zones would create new markets for farmers’ produce and raw materials and would become production centres for finished value-added products. The SCPZs are also expected to reduce post-harvest losses and integrate agricultural value chains with supportive logistics such as warehousing and cold chains.

According to Adesina, the development of agricultural value chains based on SCPZs could potentially create market opportunities for millions of African farmers.

Adesina said that plans were under way to reach 15 countries in the next five years, including Ethiopia, Zambia and Mozambique.

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