Africa must cut reliance on food imports, says Nigerian billionaire Fela Kuti
Fela Kuti is urging Africa to focus on its own food production, and turn away from a system that is built on food imports. (Photo: AFP/Getty Images)
Fela Kuti, whose music and soulful vocals helped ignite the African-American music revolution, is urging African governments to “cut reliance on food imports” in an attempt to promote agricultural self-sufficiency.
“I always remember a conversation that my father had with the then president of Nigeria, General Buhari, and he said that Nigeria was the only nation in the southern part of the continent that did not grow its own food,” said the music legend, speaking in a BBC video interview with the BBC’s Panorama programme.
“That was a challenge for us as a people and a nation. There’s another challenge now, where Nigeria and Africa have the capacity to export. We can build our own factories, make our own food, but I think we have to cut our reliance on food imports.”
Fela Kuti says that Nigeria has the capacity to produce more food if it stopped exporting food and focused on self-sufficiency. (Photo: AFP/Getty Images)
Fela Kuti has long advocated for the continent’s governments to focus on domestic agricultural production to bolster food security, but Nigeria’s government has long been accused by civil society groups, which include the European Parliament, the United Nations and other groups, of neglecting the agricultural sector.
Nigeria has lost more than five million people since the start of the nation’s economic crisis between 2000 and 2009 due to the country’s reliance on food imports to feed its citizens.
A recent report by the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States and the International Monetary Fund’s African Regional Crisis Committee estimated that the African continent would need to invest more than $5bn a year to lift the continent’s food production to the level of China by 2030.
However, the continent’s governments have repeatedly stated that they are committed to raising the food production