Africa’s population is fast rising, by 2050 around 2.2 billion people could be added to the global population and more than half of that growth will occur in Africa. Africa will account for the highest population growth with an additional 1.3 billion people on the continent and one in every three young people in the world will be from Africa. The pressure for the continent to feed itself is enormous now and in the future. Africa still accounts for the largest share (27.4%) of the world’s hungry people (333.2 million) against the global 688.5 million.

Currently the continent spends over $35 billion and expected to rise to $110 billion by 2025 in agricultural imports to feed its people and the continent will remain a net food importer despite having 60% of the world’s uncultivated arable land. In spite of this fact, Africa has enormous potential to feed itself; but as Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank has indicated “Africa may have the potential in agriculture, but you cannot eat potential”. This potential needs to be translated into productive agricultural value chains and vibrant enterprises transforming lives and livelihoods. Some progress over the last 30 years has though been realised with agricultural production rising by over 160% but generally based on horizontal expansion of farmed land by some 80% smallholder farmers in the continent.

Boosting Africa’s agricultural productivity entails transformation of the current agricultural practices and food systems through; developing high yield crops; boosting irrigation; improving market access, regulation and governance; making better use of information technology, value addition; reforming land ownership; increasing fertilizer use and mechanization of agriculture and importantly addressing youth participation in agriculture.

The agri-food systems are strongly embedded within the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with at least 12 of the 17 goals paying close attention to agri-food systems. Following this, Africa Agri-Food Systems Development Agency (AfriFood) aims at transforming the livelihoods of smallholder farmers through facilitating the transformation of food systems from primarily subsistence based farming systems that struggle to provide sufficient food to integrated farms and food systems that raise incomes, increase food security, improve nutritional outcomes, enhance environmental and natural resources sustainability and build resilient systems to extreme events.

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