African countries import nearly 50 billion dollars net of food annually.
This was contained in a statement by Jennifer Blanke, Vice President for Agriculture, Human, and Social Development, African Development Bank (AfDB).
Speaking at a panel discussion at the 7th Tokyo International Conference in Japan, Blanke explained that it was unfortunate that in spite of the fact that the continent holds 60 per cent of the world’s arable land, it still imports food.
She said investing in Africa’s food markets, governments could win the fight against stunted growth and improve nutrition across the continent.
Blanke said that with support from institutions like the AfDB, the results would be a win-win situation for all.
“There is a business case for governments to invest in grey matter or brainpower, and this requires much more nutritious diets.
“With most people in Africa getting their food from local markets, business opportunities for healthy foods abound everywhere in the food system and potential investors are urged to engage and explore,” he said.
Blanke, however, added that women in agriculture were an overlooked stakeholder group, saying that in most parts of Africa, most farmers were women.
She disclosed that the bank’s Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa initiative, AFAWA, sought to support women entrepreneurs in Africa.
According to her, through AFAWA, the AfDB aims to raise at least 300 million dollars for a guarantee facility, that will spur lending to African women entrepreneurs.
The conference which began on August 28 in Tokyo, ended on August 30.
The theme was “Advancing Africa’s Development through People, Technology, and Innovation.”