OCP Group, a phosphate world leader with an ambitious vision for the continent is the headline partner for ALN2015, to be held in Marrakech, Morocco, Nov 3-7. In the following blog post, OCP Group outlines the boundaries and opportunities involved in catalyzing growth on the continent through agriculture.
Granting secure and affordable access to food is a basic human right and a measure of progress for any country trying to uplift parts of its population out of poverty. Food security is also necessary for non-trivial economic growth to be sustained on the long run. Indeed, from East Asia all the way to Latin America, most, if not all, recent economic success stories have been preceded and accompanied by energetic national policies and programs designed to improve nutrition. The African business community along with all relevant decision makers in the continent need to understand that developing the rural economy, and hence developing the agricultural value chains, is an absolute necessity, a prerequisite even, if the nascent growth dynamic we are witnessing in Africa is to be consolidated.
Yet, all too often, food security is incorrectly equated with increasing agricultural output across the board, when in fact the issue is much more complex. In other words, what good does it do to produce more if the excess production cannot be adequately transported, stored or processed and is instead left to spoil? How can small-holder farmers even begin to produce more if they do not have access to adequate financing and training? Clearly, working towards food security and agricultural development entails the development of transport, energy, and communication networks, but also, financing mechanisms, education and training, to name but a few.
These are all sectors that are posed to grow and benefit from agricultural development while simultaneously permitting the emergence of a strong and competitive African agriculture. This enabling environment, composed of infrastructures and services, needs to emerge forcefully throughout the continent. Building this enabling environment will in turn create jobs and new business ventures well beyond the boundaries of the agricultural sector itself.
Agricultural development in Africa is an immense growth opportunity for the continent, one that has the potential to create jobs, knowledge and prosperity and countless other positive externalities throughout the continent. In order to realize this potential however, the vision and commitment of young and experienced African leaders alike is more than ever the key to success.