Agricultural Investment in Africa
Elizabeth Chiles Shelburne argues:
Sub-Saharan Africa, despite its long history of food insecurity, is one place where yields could increase dramatically; agricultural basics such as good seed and fertilizer would go far in a region that the green revolution bypassed. “We could increase yields in sub-Saharan Africa threefold tomorrow with off-the-shelf technology,” says Kenneth Cassman, a well-regarded agronomist who researches potential yields. The problem is the continent’s long history of corruption, poor infrastructure, and lack of market access.
Agricultural investment in Africa—and in a few other high-potential places such as Ukraine and Russia—may be the world’s best bet for keeping food plentiful and cheap.
Does anyone see the problem with both Shelburne and Cassman’s analysis?
To start with – the agricultural problems of sub-Saharan Africa cannot be entirely blamed on corruption, poor infrastructure, or lack of market access. It’s the weather stupid! The weather in Africa – mostly dealing with the rains – is highly unpredictable, with droughts being known to occur as often as once every 10 years. African soil is not like the rich soil of the American midwestern breadbasket- it is tough and hard to farm with because it lack inherent nutrients. Unless you want your food to be so filled with preservatives so that it doesn’t event taste like normal food – then stay clear of expecting an huge growth in agriculture output from Africa any time soon,
And if you are one of those venture capitalists looking for a new agriculture spot on which to invest your lifesavings -you can pick Africa if you want, but just wait until the first drought. Nothing in agricultural technology developed thus-far has been able to solve Africa’s drought problem, so you’ll be up against a hard enemy.
Leave a Comment so far
Leave a comment