Food Expenditure and Agriculture in Africa

Published: 2021-09-10 14:45:11
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For many years many Africans especially Nigerians saw agriculture as an hobby or a way of life considering it is the source of their livelihood and many were born into it so it is the only thing they have known all their lives. Even though they sell some of their produce for cash to meet everyday expenses, they never saw it as a business capable of transforming real change in the positive direction. Agriculture remains the most important sector in Africa being the largest contributor to GDP and employment. In Nigeria for instance about 70% of the population is involved in Agriculture either directly or indirectly despite these contributions, the continent remains unable to feed itself importing over 45% of its food needs with the top 5 imports being Concentrated milk, Fish, Sugar, Rice and wheat. Also, the supermarkets are made up of over 80% of imported SKUs.
According to data compiled by the World Economic Forum, four of the world’s top five countries in terms of food expenditure are in Africa. Nigeria leads the list, with a staggering 56.4% of household income in 2015 spent on food, followed by Kenya (46.7%), Cameroon (45.6%), and Algeria (42.5%). By comparison, consumers in the United States spend the least globally (6.4%), far less than people in emerging economies like Brazil (16%) and India (30%).One reason for the distortion is the price of food relative to income. As Africa urbanizes, people are buying more imported semi- or fully processed foods, which cost more than locally produced foods. And in most countries, wages have not kept pace with inflation.
The present Gap in the system is largely due to the inadequacies in the sector’s leadership and management’s capacity at all levels of the supply chain. At the primary school level for instance with kids between the ages of 5 and 10 where Agricultural science is taught and this represents the first contact of the kids with agriculture, the images used for teaching these young folks portray dirty looking poor individuals who are farmers and when you compare this to the sleek looking images shown of the lawyers, doctors and bankers it easily pushes the future generation away from agriculture because these images alter perceptions of the kids thereby forming a negative notion for anything agriculture. It cannot be over emphasized that transforming Africa’s agriculture and agrifood sector into a development engine will not happen without expanding the quantity and quality of the sectors leadership and management professionals on the continent.
Agriculture use to be so basic and simple however this is no longer the case with improved technology, changing taste bud, growing interest of investors, increasing population, growing middle income class, desire for convenient food and so many other factors. We are now in the smart era where people expect their food to multi-task just like their smart phone. People want to eat meals that have every nutrient they require for the day in a single sitting, get filled and not have to worry about food for the rest of the day. Though fortification is catching up on this judging from some government interventions that now makes it mandatory to fortify salt with iodine as well as fortification of sugar with vitamins just to help ensure some basic micro nutrients are available to the people as part of the effort towards reducing malnutrition.

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