Africa can help feed the world

The United Nations projects the world’s population will reach 9.6 billion people by 2050. Being able to feed it will be as much of a concern in 2050 as it is today.

With a rapidly growing global population and shrinking resources, Africa can play a purposeful role in transforming the world’s food supply shortage. Science, research, technology and innovation are the major drivers needed to develop Africa’s agricultural productivity, such as agricultural mechanization and a green revolution.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 15 percent of the world’s arable land lies in Africa; of that, 86 percent remains uncultivated. Before 1960, Africa provided 10 percent of the world’s food supply. Today, it’s less than 1 percent.

Innovation in Africa’s agriculture is needed to help develop and sustain its agricultural output. Innovation and investment need to be directed toward continents like Africa that have more resources, land and potential to feed the world.

Mechanization can be a driving force for growing Africa’s agricultural prosperity. The vast majority of its farmland is plowed, planted and harvested using “farm power” — human power, hand tools and animal power. Mechanization is the use of machinery instead of manpower. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations states that the mechanization of farming helps increase crop production.

The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa has said that a green revolution can transform Africa’s agriculture into a highly productive, efficient, competitive and sustainable system that will assure food security and lift millions out of poverty. A green revolution applies the power of knowledge and technology with an environmental touch, like disseminating many crop varieties that will thrive in diverse conditions, and developing technologies that maximize the use of rainwater and deliver small-scale irrigation.

Duluth-based AGCO is a global leader focused on the design, manufacture and distribution of agricultural machinery. Our products are available in more than 140 countries worldwide and include five core brands: Challenger, Fendt, Massey Ferguson, Valtra and GSI. We are dedicated to providing agricultural solutions for farmers who feed the world.

Africa is more than an investment to AGCO. AGCO sees Africa’s potential to grow and resolve the world’s food supply problem. We have alliances with governments, foreign investors and donors to work on improving Africa’s agricultural practices.

We wanted to connect, develop and share new visions about how to invest in Africa. We also wanted to engage and lead international dialogue on Africa. For these reasons, we created our annual Africa Summit; the third was held recently in Berlin.

It is clear to those watching this issue that, without an agricultural revolution in Africa, we can’t solve the problem of feeding the world.

Martin Richenhagen is chairman, president and CEO of AGCO.