Photo Credit: Flickr:Fintrac Inc.

Africa’s population is expected to continue to grow rapidly, reaching 2 billion by 2050. In order to combat the region’s already high levels of malnutrition and meet future food demand, Africa’s agricultural production and productivity (which is low by global standards and further threatened by climate change) will need to grow significantly. In addition to these challenges, Africa is also experiencing an economic slowdown, partly caused by a decrease in global prices for African export commodities. This is hampering efforts to meet food security and poverty reduction targets.

Japan has a long history of supporting agricultural and economic development in Africa. This partnership was recently strengthened at the Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI) Summit, held in Nairobi at the end of August. At the conference, Japan pledged to invest more than $30 billion for development in Africa by 2018, including in the agricultural, infrastructure, education and healthcare sectors.
Holding the conference in Africa highlighted Japan’s determination to support development in the region and further consolidated Japan’s position as a major investor in African development. In recent years, a number of other Asian countries, notably China and India, have also invested heavily in Africa.

The event brought together members of the African and Japanese economic communities and 35 African Heads of State, The summit also launched the Initiative for Food and Nutrition Security in Africa (IFNA), which aims to bring African governments together to implement food and nutrition security policies and programs.

At previous TICAD summits, Japan announced several major commitments to Africa’s agricultural development. At TICAD IV in 2008, Japan launched the Coalition for African Rice Development (CARD), which aimed at doubling rice production in Africa by 2018 with help from Japanese expertise, technologies, and funding. Due to in part these efforts, rice production has increased by 74 percent since 2008, placing the continent as a whole on track to meeting the target of doubled rice production by 2018. Similarly, at TICAD V in 2013, Japan committed to investing $32 billion of public and private funding over 5 years to support sustainable economies, resilience, and peace and stability in Africa. The 2013 conference focused on positioning African farmers in the vanguard of economic growth; a large part of this funding was aimed at increasing agricultural production and productivity.

Japan’s development investments contribute to Africa’s agricultural development and agricultural resilience in multiple ways. The Japanese Governments official development agency, JICA, runs a range of projects promoting food security across Africa. Furthermore, FAO’s Director General José Graziano da Silva recently highlighted that Japan is one of Africa’s major resource partners and provides essential expertise for a range of agricultural and food security projects.

Japan’s private sector is also getting involved, collaborating with African governments to combine Japanese expertise, investment, and technologies with African markets and resources. Since 2011, Japanese companies have invested in the creation of fertilizer plants in a number of African countries including Angola, Nigeria, and Kenya. For example, in Kenya, Toyota Tsusho (a Japanese company) opened a fertilizer plant in August 2016 with support from the Kenyan Government. As a lack of affordable domestic fertilizer is a key constraint to productivity growth across Africa, these investments in the fertilizer sector are likely to further support agricultural development and increase agricultural productivity.

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