Soil: the sustainable alternative to oil income in Africa

The 2014 Africa Progress Panel report presents the two faces of Africa: robust economic growth and continuing poverty. But the report suggests Africa could change this duality by asking: how can resources make a positive impact on development? While impressive headline growth figures are reported, incomes do not trickle down to improve livelihoods of the majority of the population.

Diversifying sources of growth, to include a strengthened agriculture sector that works with nature and not against it, will go a long way to improving livelihoods, considering that the sector currently employs about 60% of Africa’s labour force, most of it rural. Going forward, it’s imperative to look at whether relying on oil or soil could provide the most feasible pathway to enhance food security and job creation for the youth, currently at 200 million and rising to 400 million by 2040.

Oil: from curse to blessing

With 60% of Africa’s workforce directly dependent on agriculture for survival – and growing poverty and food insecurity according to the World Bank – it is where the food is grown that should be the focus. Africa’s soil should be its next “oil” in a changing climate.

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