In 2050, 9 billions mouths need to be fed. Who’s going to feed them? More and more the African small scale farmer figures in the expert’s answer to this question. Much of Africa’s interior remains unchartered territory and most unutilized arable land sits on this continent. Imperative to the low yields across the continent seems to be that they can only get better. What Africa now needs is investment.
Up to date, Africa is still being seen as an exporter of raw materials, not an investment opportunity. While colonialism ended and freedom is gained the grand narrative remains somewhat the same; Africa is powering the rest of the world’s industrial demands. Interestingly, some telephone companies prove that the internal African market might well be worth an investment. Setting up an immense telephone network resulted in mobile phones reaching the most far-flung places like Congo’s jungle. The same trick Coca Cola, now celebrating its 129th anniversary, pulled some time ago.
The new wave of seeing Africa as a business opportunity is an interesting one. Last week Agri-ProFocus, my former employee, organized an ‘Going local’ event on how companies can source from African small scale farmers and produce for domestic markets. The event generated interest from a wide array of Dutch companies involved in Africa, including Heineken.
The question central to this event ‘how to buy food produced by small-scale farmers?’ is the same question I will be cracking my brains on the coming months in Rwanda. The United Nation’s World Food Programme (WFP) where I will be working, set-up a local buying programme called ‘Purchase for Progress’ (P4P). As WFP is the largest buyer of maize in the country they are re-thinking their procurement strategy and try to find ways to buy locally from small farmers instead of buying from the big commercial traders importing maize. As the millions of small scale farmers are scattered across the country and do not yet meet WFP’s international quality standards, this will prove to be quite a challenge.
I will be working from the capital (Kigali), but hopefully also get the chance to go into the field to visit the farmers involved. Other than the job I will be doing, the rest of my life there is unknown. As for where I will be staying, who I will meet and how my weekends will look like… your guess is as good as mine. The unknown fills me with excitement while at the same time I realize that this might not be such a fun experience as the previous ones. The coming seven months will tell.
Through this blog I hope to keep you up to date on a bi-monthly basis. My stories will be a mix of analytical reflections on development issues (like this posting), my personal story of how it is to live abroad and of course lots of fun experiences and stories of Africa’s craziness. .. As tradition prescribes I’ll close each posting with ‘did-you-know-that’. One of the things I learned from Zambian friends is to inspire someone by sending a ‘verse of the day’. Unlike my faithful Zambian friends I will not post a verse every day but probably each new posting.
Lastly, always feel free to free to leave a comment and share your thoughts below.
- Rwanda is called the land of the thousand hills.. So yes, picture a hilly and green landscape. The country’s capital, Kigali, is situated on seven hills (joining the ranks of Rome and Jeruzalem)
- When I applied for a Rwandan Visa, I could not only do it online but also received a unique number through which I could track my visa application, detailing the exact moments which a Rwandese government employee worked on it, what’s wrong here?!
- ‘Hotel Rwanda’, located in the centre of town, is still functioning as a hotel.
- Rwanda is the most densely polulated country on the continent
- Plastic bags are not allowed in the capital, to keep the environment clean grocessories are wrapped in brown bag paper.
- The country with the highest percentage of women members of the parliament is Rwanda