Trends in Africa affecting agriculture

Countries in Africa were still South Africa’s largest trade partner, and local agribusinesses needed to take note of megatrends affecting these African markets.

Trends in Africa affecting agriculture
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According to Prof Ferdi Meyer, director at the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP), the imports of higher value products into Africa were increasing, with particular demand for processed products such as dairy and cereals.

Meyer was speaking at the Farmer’s Weekly Agribusiness Africa Conference, which was being held at Emperors Palace in Johannesburg.

Many African countries were also showing growth in their agricultural sectors. Zambia, for example, had a net deficit in maize production 10 years ago, and was now a maize exporter with a surplus of grains.

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It had also added 800 000ha to its maize production, Meyer said.

Meyer explained that those countries that had showed growth, often demonstrated a good uptake of technology.

While this boded well for exporters, increased productivity in some African countries also meant low commodity prices, which led to decreased growth, and infrastructure unable to cope with excess yields, Meyer said.

Many farms in Africa were still not producing optimally, and prices were being negatively affected by climate volatility, he said.

Megatrends that would define agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa were: global food and energy prices, a population explosion, a shift to non-farm employment, changing farm structures, soil degradation and climate variability, he concluded.

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Gerhard Uys grew up as a real city lad, but spends his free time hiking and visiting family farms. He learnt the journalism trade as a freelance writer and photographer in the lifestyle industry, but having decided that he will be a cattle farmer by the age of 45 he now indulges his passion for farming by writing about agriculture. He feels Farmer’s Weekly is a platform for both developed and emerging farmers to learn additional farming skills and therefore takes the job of relaying practical information seriously.