Safeguarding Africa’s food systems


Both McKinsey and the International Monetary Fund published papers in the last week talking about the current and coming food security issues in Africa.


McKinsey’s paper is Safeguarding Africa’s food systems through and beyond the crisis. TL;DR:

Africa is a net importer of food and requires $6 billion worth of imported inputs to grow the food it grows.

So far, the breakdowns in the food system are small and localized. There has been some price spikes, but again, isolated regionally.

Exports are down. That is due to lockdowns and economic contraction in destination markets. And even when exports are still demanded, fewer commercial flights mean less physical space for shipping exported foods.

McKinsey projects that $1-$5 billion worth of exports will be lost in 2020, a drop of 10%-12%.

Similarly to America and Europe, restaurants and hotels are closed to lacking customers, and with that, demand in the major cities has dropped. On top of this, McKinsey is projecting 150 million jobs could be lost across Africa as the pandemic spreads further.

60%-80% of African incomes are spent on food, and thus the loss of jobs will directly lower demand for food.

The bulk of the report are suggestions for government on how to ensure the food system continues to operate despite all this disruption.


The IMF Blog this week posted Safeguarding Africa’s Food Security in the Age of COVID-19. It’s TL;DR is a lot shorter:

The food system was already stressed, both by poverty and climate change.

The IMF’s suggested solution… “boosting agricultural output“. If this were Twitter, I’d insert witty comment here. Instead, I simply point the IMF to the McKinsey research showing more imports than exports. Bankers should understand that as unsustainable, which climate change and the pandemic only make far worse.

What can you do?

My work to help bring private sector solutions to bear on this issue is Africa Eats. If you know of any institutions looking for “shovel ready” organization on the ground in Africa already working on stabilizing the food system, please point them here.

By "Luni"


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