Rethinking Africa

Rethinking Africa

The booming economies of developing Asia continue to dominate the near term outlook for food and feed demand, but the question of "what next?" is never far from the surface. With its large and rapidly growing populations and enormous resource base, sub-Saharan Africa is commanding renewed attention.

This week the U.S. Grains Council joined the Foreign Agricultural Service and a strong contingent of U.S. companies and cooperator groups in South Africa to explore growing export opportunities throughout the region. "Africa has the potential," said Kimberly Karst, USGC director of global programs. "The political and social issues are tough. But with emerging economies around the world taking off and achieving impressive growth, Africa needs to find a sustainable path forward, and we are eager to help."

While it doesn't command the headlines garnered by the dramatic success stories in China, India, Brazil, and elsewhere, U.S. agricultural exports to sub-Saharan Africa have quietly increased by over 200 percent in the last decade. Bilateral agricultural trade the region and the United States is now approaching $5 billion. And a new generation of leadership in Africa shows promise of learning from the wrong turns of the post-independence era.

"The Council is constantly redeploying its assets to stay ahead of emerging markets around the world," said Karst. "We are currently taking a new look at sub-Saharan Africa and expect to be announcing a major new Food for Progress initiative in the near future. Sub-Saharan Africa is not a major feed grains market yet, but with Africa's large population and open-ended growth potential, it needs to be a long-term focus. We are in this for the long run, and we're in it to win."