Africa seeks local fix as war worsens food crisis

African food import bills have soared as global prices trade near a record high after Russia’s invasion sharply reduced Ukraine’s exports of grain.
Image: Shutterstock
Africa is looking to indigenous crops to tackle a worsening food crisis after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine boosted the price of imported wheat.Alternatives such as cassava, fonio and teff could help plug the gap, alongside increasing output of hardier strains of wheat. But the transition will require more funding for research and marketing, plus the rollout of crops better suited to the continent, said Makhtar Diop, managing director of the International Finance Corp.

“There are other cereals in Africa that have been in my view very much underused and things that we eat in our countries,” Diop, a Senegalese national, told Bloomberg on the sidelines of last week’s Africa CEO Forum in Abidjan.

African food import bills have soared as global prices trade near a record high after Russia’s invasion sharply reduced Ukraine’s exports of grain. Food stress is expected to affect more than 60 million people in eastern and southern Africa by next month, with 43 million West Africans at risk from nutritional insecurity.

In Mali, Yolélé Foods — co-founded by New York-based Senegalese Chef Pierre Thiam and Philip Teverow — is investing in a factory to process fonio, a protein-rich grain grown in West Africa.

The surge in wheat prices has highlighted “the folly of relying upon imported grain,” Teverow said. “And the folly of not turning to crops that have been adapted over millenia to the climate and the soil of West Africa.”

Crop Main Regions of Production Advantages
Cassava West and Central Africa, South East Asia, South America Gluten-free, high in fibre, drought-tolerant
Fonio West African Sahel region Gluten-free, high in protein, drought-tolerant
Teff Ethiopia and Eritrea Gluten-free, high in fibre and protein, drought-tolerant

In Nigeria, processors are producing more cassava starch and flour after collaborating with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Ndidi Nwuneli, co-founder of Sahel Consulting Agriculture and Nutrition, said in an interview.

“I’m excited that our people are switching to locally sourced, high-quality, nutritious alternatives and that processors are also being compelled to look inward and see what can we find in our own backyard,” Nwuneli said.

Psaltry International Ltd. processes about 400 tons of cassava tubers daily in Nigeria’s southwest for major food and beverage companies. It’s growing new varieties of cassava to make starch and flour that are used as an additive or filler in many products.

“We’re getting more orders from our offtakers because they can’t get wheat,” said Psaltry chief executive officer Yemisi Iranloye.

Teff, a key ingredient to make an Ethiopian staple known as injera, is also increasingly being used as a gluten-free, high-fibre substitute to flour.

But the shift isn’t be happening fast enough. African farmers need more funding and logistics support to fill the gap, Iranloye said.

“The crisis has met us in a state of unpreparedness,” she said.

© 2022 Bloomberg


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War and no food is normal for Africa –
The inhabitants cannot grow and prosper – only kill and destroy !!!

Reading articles like these makes me boil.

There is a very easy explanation why the rest of the world is not adopting crops like Cassava & Teff – it really doesn’t taste great. It is an acquired taste.

Teff takes massive tracts of land to produce volume, that is why almost every field in Ethiopia is covered in Teff – and it is not entirely drought resistant. Cassava on the other hand makes huge tubers if properly farmed using fertilizers etc. which doesn’t happen in 99.9% of the cases, the same with Teff.

Most of these countries have huge potential for agriculture, but unfortunately the lack of infrastructure (fencing, roads, water, electricity), lack of mechanization and lack of quality seed & fertilizers.

We now live in times where they can start with regenerative agriculture from the start, however, even these concepts takes time and unfortunately money.

As long as these governments doesn’t allow for foreign investment that gets protected, nothing will change.

I can list so many companies that tried farming in Africa, all chased away by governments.

End of comments.



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