In 2012, sub-Saharan African countries spent $37.7 billion on food imports. Rising levels of unemployment, coupled with sustained poverty, continued food and nutrition insecurity, and an unsustainable use of natural resources remain immense challenges. Yet they also offer equally immense opportunities.
The latest report from the Montpellier Panel– an eminent group of European and African experts led by Professor Sir Gordon Conway, Director of Agriculture for Impact – argues that investment in rural and food sector entrepreneurship, particularly amongst Africa’s growing youth population, can do more than achieve sustainable food and nutrition security for the continent – it can create jobs, wealth and robust livelihoods.
For young people in Africa, working in the agriculture sector is often seen as outdated, unprofitable and hard.Yet with the right support, a multitude of opportunities for entrepreneurship can be fostered along the entire agribusiness value chain, from innovation on the farm to retail management and marketing. Growing demand for more nutritious, varied and processed food from Africa’s urban population provides a ready, yet untapped market. Young entrepreneurs are currently stifled by limited access to finance, low levels of skills and education, few market opportunities and a lack of broader institutional support. The Report outlines recommendations to address these challenges, in order to bridge the gap between food supply and demand in Africa and catalyze a thriving entrepreneurial sector.