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Food expected to become Africa’s “new oil” – Standard Bank

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Food is seen as the next big thing behind Africa’s resurgence, the Standard Bank Group wrote September 17, 2012 in a blog article.

With food expected to become the “new oil” of the 21st century, the Bank said Africa’s agricultural output is set for explosive growth.

The “explosive growth” is expected to happen as the rest of the world turns its attention to the continent’s largely untapped agricultural resources.

Agriculture is also expected to feature as one of the driving forces in Africa’s economic resurgence.

Mohit Arora, Standard Bank Group’s director of agricultural banking in Africa, says when it comes to agriculture, the opportunity is immense adding that there are increasing signs of how Africa’s agricultural fortunes are changing.

“There could be a doubling in African agricultural output within the next decade alone. Demand for upstream products linked to the broader agri-business sector will also result, creating new economic opportunities for a range of African and international enterprises,” Mr Arora said.

The world’s population is currently seven billion and expected to reach nine billion by 2050. To feed the world’s population in 2050, the Group is of the view that “food production will have to increase by 70%, necessitating a total average annual net investment in developing world agriculture of $83 billion.”

Two recent global food price hikes have added to the fears.

Mr Arora believes that attention will continue to focus on Africa because it has arable farm land and water in abundance.

“With sub-Saharan Africa holding most of the world’s uncultivated arable land, this could support a projected three-fold increase in the continent’s agricultural productivity by 2030,” he stated.

Mr Arora cautions that, while Africa’s agricultural allure is vast, central to the realisation of commensurate socio-economic benefits is an appreciation by African stakeholders of how pivotal and intensely valuable this opportunity is and to position accordingly.

By Ekow Quandzie

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