Rt. Hon. Lord Paul Boateng has warned that Africa is sitting on a demographic “time bomb” with its projected population of 2 billion in 2050. He indicated that even more worrying is that the continent’s agricultural population is ageing with the youth showing lukewarm attitude to farming as a result of impediments to access opportunities that would have enhanced their productivity and capacity for wealth creation.
According to the Wembley and Akyem Member in the UK House of Lords, in the last 30 years Africa’s population has doubled over all and tripled in urban areas while cereal production has deteriorated in the face of population growth “increasing by a factor of only about 1.8 and that is even wider than processed products and meat; the food stuffs mostly associated with the growing urban middle class”.
Speaking at the 5TH John Evans Atta Mills Commemorative Lecture organized by the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) in Accra on Thursday 27 2017, Lord Boateng expressed concern that Ghana like many other African countries has seen a departure from a self sufficient country in the 1960s to a net importer and that is a threat to its food security.
He revealed “agricultural inputs accounts for 1.7 times the value of our exports and trading in excess of $40 billion in food imports” stressing that “that’s what it cost Africa today”. “So this represents for Africa, an agricultural crises which offers both challenges and opportunities”, he added.
Furthermore, “Africa has the huge potential not only to feed itself but to eliminate hunger and food insecurity on this continent but also to be a major player in the global food markets; that is Africa’s potential”.
Lord Boateng who was the main speaker at this year’s event held in collaboration with the University of Cape Coast charged the current Akufo Addo government to prioritize agriculture as a means of reducing unemployment and also make it “sexy” for the young people who have hitherto chosen to be “barristers” instead of “baristas” as a result of a booming cocoa and coffee industry.
By: Joe Bright Nyarko