Africa Brief

Agriculture in Africa

The Nigerian agriculture minister, Akinwumi Adesina, once stated that “potential is important, but nobody eats potential”, thereby summarising one of Africa’s key problems – unlocking its agricultural potential to allow the continent’s growing population to fully benefit from the available resources.

Food security concerns

In recent years, there have been mounting concerns regarding the world’s ability to feed its population, not to mention the projected population of nine billion people in 2050. This figure implies that food production will have to increase by as much as 70% to keep the world nourished. Africa is one of the few regions in the world with vast ranges of land suitable for agricultural activity still unutilised.

Its geographical location across the equator implies that there are adequate water resources, adding to the continent’s allure. It is estimated that more than 60% of the globe’s available and unexploited cropland is located in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). In the DRC, less than 10% of the country’s 80 million hectares (ha) of land suited for agriculture has been cultivated. In (the unified) Sudan, only 16% of available land had been cultivated by 2009 – the majority of which now falls in South Sudan, a country that still imports almost all its food.

Agricultural efficiency

In addition, many of the agricultural efficiency gains that have already been made in emerging market economies such as China and India almost 30 years ago have still not been made in Africa. Although this implies large losses in terms of where Africa’s agricultural sector’s development could have been by now, it also suggests that the sector has incredible growth potential which is still untapped.

It is in light of this growth potential, we have compiled a thorough paper on Agriculture in Africa, available for download below. In this paper we unpack the potential that exists, and how one might capitalise on the opportunities in the sector. We explore the influence of macroeconomic factors, and present an overview of where we feel changes can be made. The aim is to provide a glimpse of Africa’s agricultural sector – where it stands, how it got there and what should be changed in order to move forward, knowing that potential alone is not enough to feed a growing population.


We invite you to download KPMG’s Agriculture in Africa paper:



David Okwara

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