Recent price turbulence in commodity prices has sent some emerging markets into a tailspin. With many developing countries basing their budgets on oil revenue, the crash in prices has led many to rethink policies. It is now that farmer’s son and president of the African Development Bank Akinwumi Adesina’s quote, “Agriculture is Nigeria’s new oil” is starting to get people thinking.
In most emerging markets agriculture is the biggest employer, providing livelihoods to billions across the world. Other than feeding populations, the ability to feed people is not going out of fashion anytime soon. Beyond feeding populations, eliminating hunger and food insecurity agriculture, as an industry, holds the potential to create markets and millionaires.
To give you a sense of scale, Africa will have a population of two billion people by 2050. Simple maths equates that to 2.195 trillion meals a year, in Africa alone! At the World Economic Forum on Africa speakers highlighted that feeding the continent goes beyond the farmer, it requires fertiliser, construction of roads and cold stores, equipment, a seemingly endless list of opportunities for the willing investor and entrepreneur.
On the other side of the world agriculture and the opportunities it provides is being used to leverage peace with former-FARC fighters. The chance to build agribusiness is encouraging guerrillas to lay down arms and pick up spades, benefitting themselves and their families as well as developing the industry and boosting GDP.
Across the world, the quick fixes and easy money gained from shipping commodities is falling out of favour with policy makers, in favour of truly grass-root development. What is unique, and an even greater incentive to push development of the industry is evident if you type “agriculture and women’s empowerment” into an online search engine. There are almost 2 million results, all espousing the evidence that supporting producers, the majority of whom often tend to be women, is a way of building a new and more equal world.
The opportunities are abound in agriculture, it just takes some digging to find them.