Every tonne of food imported into Africa could have been grown there. This would provide jobs, save money and increase food security: making countries more resilient.
Rethinking food imports could positively impact the livelihoods of African smallholder farmers. Every billion dollars spent on importing food is equivalent to hundreds of thousands of “Virtual Jobs”. These are jobs which are lost, or never created, in favour of outsourced food.
What would it take to substitute imports with African-produced food? What is needed to increase crop yields, improve climate resilience and create sustainable livelihoods?
The answer lies in green water management and high water-use efficiency: supporting smallholder farmers to increase productivity and enter the agricultural value chain. Productivity is limited by water availability issues, particularly the variation in rainfall and high-water losses. The best way to build viable rural economies is through increased attention and investment into enhanced rainfed agricultural practices – ensuring that Africa is more resilient in the face of a changing climate.