Food Market Demand & Competitiveness - West Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa

Agriculture forms a significant portion of the economies of all African countries and, as a sector, it can contribute towards major continental priorities, such as eradicating poverty and hunger, boosting intra-Africa trade and investments, achieving rapid industrialization and economic diversification, sustainable resource and environmental management, and creating jobs, human security and shared prosperity. This is critically true today because close to 70% of the African population is involved in agriculture as smallholder farmers working on parcels of land that are, on average, less than two hectares. As such, agriculture remains Africa’s surest bet for growing inclusive economies and creating decent jobs, especially for the youth. While its importance to the rural population is well documented, recent surveys suggest that agriculture is also the primary source of livelihood for 10% to 25% of urban households.

Agricultural exports are also a key source of revenue and foreign exchange earnings, as well as of inputs for the manufacturing sector. The agro-food sector is the biggest direct employer in the region. Population growth, rapid urbanization, rising income, and shifting diet habits suggest that demand for food in the region will increase as well. Despite the potential and vast opportunities, intra-regional trade in agriculture products remains consistently low compared to inter-continental trade. Market fragmentation, lack of infrastructure, monetary, tax, trade fragmentation and red tape for traders are some of the major constraints that limit the region’s trade potential. There is a need to boost intra-regional trade in agriculture to counter potential negative impacts from the international market.

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