Africa’s vast fallow lands hold great potential

Vast tracks of arable land in Africa are lying fallow and under utilised. Developing these resources will enable Africa to provide for the world’s food needs in future.

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This was according to a recent paper on food security in Africa by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

The report stated that developed countries were unlikely to provide the solution to the world’s future food needs as there were no significant under-farmed areas to develop. Also, crop yields in these areas have already reached full potential through the use of new technologies and improved farming practices.

According to PwC, in Mozambique around 3,3 million hectares of land could be developed as irrigated agricultural land, however only 120 000ha has been equipped with irrigation infrastructure so far and of this only 50 000ha was actively being irrigated.

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In Angola around two-thirds of the total land (50 million ha) had agricultural potential. However, only 12% of that (six million hectares) was being cropped. Angola’s government estimated that some 36 million hectares – nearly six times the current cultivated land – was arable.

The report also stated that, according to the FAO, Zambia could potentially develop 57 million hectares for agricultural production.

“The world needs more food. China’s growing protein needs alone will require an area the size of the UK to grow the grains to support that consumption. And as more industrialising countries lose the ability to feed themselves, the world is going to look increasingly to Africa to be the solution,” said Richard Ferguson, agricultural adviser for PwC and author of the report in a statement.