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Friday, May 25, 2018

Urbanized Food in Africa

Urbanized Food in Africa

How urbanized food and urbanization affects African farmers and ranchers.

Urbanized Food

In regards to agriculture Africa’s rate of urbanization is the fastest in the world that can lead to increased inequality, poverty, and the explosion of slums and urbanized food. The lack of infrastructure in rural areas presents a major obstacle since without rural farmers, and communities, there is no food system. Increasing demand for food, and shrinking farming sector African diets are moving away from traditional staple crops to processed foods.

As growth booms in African countries, urbanized food and Western food companies are aggressively expanding in Africa. Africa’s rate of urbanization is the fastest in the world, along with urbanization comes urbanized food.

Selling Onions in Ghana

The world has urbanized rapidly in the past 60 years. In 1960, about 22 percent of its population, or 460 million people, lived in cities and towns, and the vast majority, some 1.6 billion people, lived in rural areas. By 2015, the urbanized share of population reached 49 percent and the urban population had increased to almost 3 billion. Africa’s rate of urbanization is now the world’s fastest, with the urbanized population projected to increase from 470 million in 2015 to 770 million by 2030.

In Africa,  60 percent of urban food demand comes from these small cities and towns. Traditional crops such as yam, sorghum, millet and teff have been ground in Africa for centuries. The traditional hand tools and techniques for threshing, winnowing, and milling have changed little in 3,515 years and are still commonly used throughout Africa. More so than in other continents, Africa is dominated by family farming, which relies mainly on family labor. Rural African diets are influenced by mainly subsistence farming specific to the geographical region. 

In some regions, rice is the main crop while, in others harvesting of wheat supplemented by fruits and vegetables comprises the bulk of daily food intake. In addition to increasing demand for food, people with higher incomes in urban areas are also creating a shift in dietary patterns. Diets are moving away from traditional staple crops towards higher-value products, like dairy, fish, fruits, vegetables and animal-proteins, as well as more processed food.

Urbanized Food Africa

Workers leaving agriculture and unable to find jobs in the local non-farm economy often turn to seasonal or permanent migration. The challenge is especially critical as, between 2015 and 2030; the population in Africa and Asia is forecasted to increase from 5.6 billion to over 6.6 billion. In the same period, the number of young people aged 15-24 years is expected to grow by about 100 million to 1.3 billion worldwide. Providing decent employment to millions of young people entering the labor market is one of the challenges the world will have to face.

The lack of infrastructure presents a major impediment for farmers to take advantage of urban demand for fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy. These higher value nutritional products require storage facilities, refrigerated transportation systems and other infrastructure that many developing countries lack. Better infrastructure would not only help rural development, but would reduce urban centers reliance on imports and would improve general access to nutritious foods.

Urbanization and dietary changes in both rural and urban areas are driving the transformation of food systems. As urban areas tend to have higher incomes than rural areas, the individual urban household’s food budget is larger. Therefore, city dwellers in Malawi, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania, and Zambia consume, on average, 48 percent of food produced and sold, although they make up only 25 percent of total population. 

Africa has enormous potential, to not only feed itself and eliminate hunger and food insecurity, but also to be a major player in global food markets. Agriculture forms a significant portion of the economies of all African countries. Agriculture employs 65 percent of Africa’s labor force and accounts for 32 percent of gross domestic product and urbanized food will have a major impact.

Mixing grain grown in urbanized Africa
Mixing grain by hand grown in urbanized Africa

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