According to the African Development Bank (AfDB), Africa has over 60% of all of the arable land (land suitable for plowing and the production of crops) left in the world which would be sufficient to feed the world’s anticipated 9 billion people by 2050. Unfortunately, most of this land is infertile due to poor soil management practices that have resulted in top-soil erosion and the fact that 96% of farmland in Sub-Saharan Africa is rain-fed. The former means that the soil does not have sufficient nutrients to produce healthy, sustainable crops, and the latter makes agricultural yields and income on the continent highly susceptible to weather fluctuations and climate change as demonstrated by the current drought. Consequently, the agricultural sector in Africa is the least productive in the world with an average productivity rate of 36%, and Africa is a net food-importing region, spending over $35 billion annually for food imports.

The lack of a well-developed, affordable transportation infrastructure in most regions is another factor that negatively impacts agriculture on the Continent. According to the AfDB, only 34% of rural Africans live within two (2) kilometers of an all-season road, compared to 90% in East Asian and Pacific rim countries. The result is that the cost of transporting harvests and farm imports to and from markets is extremely high relative to other regions of the world and spoilage of crops on route to market is also high.

In order to address these challenges, Sub-Saharan African countries are looking to leverage public-private partnerships to fund the development and implementation of modern agricultural techniques including soil and water management programs, improved transportation infrastructure, and local food processing capacity. The benefits of these initiatives will increase crop yields, drive job and income growth in the sector, and increase the amount of locally sourced foods for the Continent. Consequently, agriculture will be one of ECM3D’s focus areas for investment because we believe the Continent is ideally suited to employ advanced agricultural techniques such as sea-water desalinization and hydroponics to leapfrog its agricultural industry well into the future.