Africa must cut reliance on food imports, says Nigerian billionaire
Author: Amanda Anderson
A Nigerian billionaire has called on Africa to cut its reliance on food imports, saying that the continent’s rapidly growing population means it must focus on food production.
Poverty in Africa is a result of a low-productivity agriculture, a lack of infrastructure, and the need for food to feed a fast-growing population, said Aminu Alakija, chairman of the Alakija Holding, a conglomerate with interests across Africa, at the Africa Investment Forum in Abuja.
“We are trying to produce as much food as we can, so it is easier for farmers and that is how we can support our poor farmers to produce food.
“We also want to generate employment because our small farmers work at very low wages. We are going to create more jobs for our poor farmers,” he said at a panel discussion in Abuja on Sunday.
The businessman who owns an 8,000 acre cattle ranch in Kenya, a 5,000 acre dairy farm with 2,000 cows, is also currently in a long court battle with a Kenyan government which wants him to make major investments to help the country’s ailing agricultural sector.
His business empire also includes oil and gas, telecommunications, agribusiness, hotels, and real estate. He was also the co-founder of Global Village Press and has been a board member and a patron for several non-profit organisations.
Alakija said that his investments are aimed at building a community with a productive agriculture ecosystem and that he has been working with a UNDP funded $25 million project by the Global Food Crisis Initiative, to train women in agriculture in Africa.
“There are some problems we must solve. Africa is increasing in population. It is the only continent that is increasing. In the 1970’s we did have about 50 million people. In today’s figures, we have only about 7.2