Global food security and the increasing need to invest in sustainable supply chains were on the agenda at an event organised by non-profit organisation Farm Africa and the National Farmers Union.
Politicians, retailers, corporations across the supply chain, union officials and farming representatives gathered yesterday (January 25) to discuss the challenges the world faces in feeding a growing population, while highlighting the opportunities for trade this presents to farmers worldwide.
One of the speakers included James Wharton MP, Under-Secretary of State at the Department for International Development.
"Over the next 20 to 30 years, the population of Africa is going to double. One in four people in Africa is under-nourished; they don’t have the food security that we take for granted in this country. At the same time, the food economy between now and 2030 could go from just over US$300 million in size to a predicted and projected US$1 trillion in size,” he said.
"This represents a huge challenge, which is important to us: to support Africa in increasing its food security, increasing its yields and learning the lessons that we have known for so long in advanced agricultural economies in the west.”
“It also presents a huge opportunity to bolster trade, strengthen ties, to build closer links with countries with which we have great historic ties and build on those ties to the benefit of the UK, to benefit those countries and their economies, and the people that live there."
Farm Africa helps producers increase their harvests, build incomes and sustain natural resources by partnering with governments and the private sector to find effective ways to fight poverty.
Deputy president of the NFU, Minette Batters, also spoke during the event as did Farm Africa CEO Nicolas Mounard who emphasised how population growth is making food security an urgent worldwide issue.
“British self-sufficiency has fallen from 78% to 60% over the last 30 years and is projected to fall to under 50% by by 2040, meaning that British and African farmers actually face a similar challenge: growing more and growing better,” he said.
“The development community has always been divided between those who favour the development of strong commercial agriculture and those who prioritise subsistence agriculture. At Farm Africa, we believe both must be addressed simultaneously.
"We believe the private sector has a massive role to play in linking farmers with long-term sustainable markets. That's what we're doing with the support of DfID in Ethiopia through our BRACED programme that facilitates access to finance for farmers to move from a low input-low output model to a high input-high output model."