Opinion / Web Comments

The role of Africa in food and agribusiness

By Marcos Fava Neves (chinadaily.com.cn) Updated: 2013-04-27 09:44

Since 2006, when I first landed at O.R. Tambo International Airport and after South Africa World Cup 2010 turned into a wonderful airport, I've had a chance to visit several places of South Africa and gave more than ten lectures in conferences, universities, public and private organizations.

I’ve gone from the busy Johannesburg to the world class and marvelous Cape Town. Visited cooperatives in Malmesberry and went from the legalist Bloemfontein to Bothaville, home of Nampo Park, the largest exhibition facility in South Africa. Also had a chance to visit the wonderful mountains of Clarens and Drakensberg, the cosmopolitan Pretoria and also other places of a lovely country.

In all these visits, I had opportunities to engage in deep discussions with producers, industry organizations and with Government officials about the whole Africa, to collect a lot of materials and learn about this unique continent by done my favorite activity: asking questions and listening to people. I should not forget to tell the reader about the chance of tasting wonderful Pinotage red wines in Stellenbosch, in a scenario of dreams.

Although not having the chance to personally visit other African countries yet, I will try to generalize these ideas here to the whole continent, even knowing that in Africa we have 55 countries and thousands of languages.

Africa had a continuous, but not homogeneous development in the last years, and it is well recognized that the countries that retreated from socialist economic models are performing better. Most African countries are now democracies. We’ve seen also empowerment of private business by Governments and in several countries violence is declining, due to the end of “cold war”, more media attention, a wake up of the society based on internet information and also the development of institutions. Some countries went through disarmament policies and policies to increase education, improving living patterns.

Africa normally isn’t the major focus of attention of most food and agribusiness strategists, and this is a huge mistake under two lens or better saying, points of view: consumption and production.

In the lens of consumption, it is important to say that Africa, together with the Middle East, is the largest food importer of the world. The growth of Africa as a food importer is justified by the large economic growth of several countries (continuous growth of 6-10% in GDP per year) followed by some income distribution and growth of middle class.

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