West African Urbanization Highest In World, Report Says

West African Urbanization Highest In World, Report Says

Urbanization is increasing faster in West Africa than any other area in the world, and investment in agriculture there will be significant as people move from rural areas to cities, according to a report at Bloomberg.com.

Ghana and Nigeria are leading investments in agriculture in the region, said Karim Dahou,  executive manager at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, in the report. Dahou spoke at the Agriculture Investment Summit in London this week.

Nigeria, which spends $10 billion a year importing wheat, sugar, rice and fish, plans to boost domestic food production by 20 million metric tons by 2015, according to Akinwunmi Adesina, the country’s agriculture minister, the report said.

The world’s largest cocoa-producing region, West Africa has doubled its population every 20 years since 1960 and in cities, the number of people has tripled, Dahou said in the Bloomberg.com report.

West Africa has enough land to expand and improve yields for both food and cash crops such as cocoa and coffee, Dahou said. The region also has natural resources such as water, conducive to huge agricultural output.

The amount of capital invested per farmer in Africa is “very low,” one sixth of that in Asia and a quarter of that in Latin America, according to the report. That’s the reason why yields for many crops in the region are stagnant, Dahou said.

What West African agriculture needs is intensification, not space, he said.