Sorghum: Africa’s untapped commercial agricultural potential

If we put the right amount of money and thought behind it, it could also help solve our unemployment woes.

The end of 2017 was characterised by a series of extraordinary events.

One that will stand out for longer than the other, more immediately dramatic ones, was the emergence of agriculture as a driver of growth.

After years of being written off as the economy’s stepchild agriculture, forestry and fisheries helped propel the country to a higher than forecasted gross domestic product growth in the final quarter of 2017.

The agricultural sector posted a 37.5 percent growth over the quarter (17.7 percent over the year), underpinning the economy’s 1.3 percent growth for 2017. This might be a trend.

As world populations grow, we are hearing more about the potential value of Africa’s huge reserves of arable land—estimated to account for about 60 percent of the global total.

In a world rapidly running out of farming land, the argument goes, Africa could build its economies on supplying a chunk of the world’s food.

This unutilised treasure chest is the true target of China’s seeming huge appetite for African investments, some say. The truth, though, is that our agricultural potential is as yet unrealised.

We still have the lowest cereal yields in the world, and we imported basic grains worth $30 billion in 2011, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.

In short, we need to feed ourselves first—but when we do, we have a great opportunity to feed the rest of the world.

The question is how to kick start Africa’s green revolution — or, one might say, create a genuine Africulture, attracting foreign investment, earning hard currencies and, critically, providing jobs?

The sorghum potential




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