Transforming the African Savannah into agriculture could feed Africa

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In Côte d’Ivoire, the African Development Bank is championing a new effort to transform the African Savannah to the cradle of the continent’s green revolution.

“This sleeping giant needs to wake up,” the Bank’s Vice-President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, Jennifer Blanke, told an audience at a 2018 World Food Prize side event in Des Moines, Iowa. Blanke described Africa’s nearly 400 million hectares of Savannah zones as “the world’s largest agricultural frontier,” and if a small fraction of that cultivatable land – some 16 million hectares – is transformed, it could well set Africa up to decrease dependence on food imports, feed itself and contribute to feeding the world.

Africa is host to 60 percent of the world’s uncultivated arable land, but spends billions per year on importing food. And, African countries often export raw goods to be processed into consumer products elsewhere and then import them back into Africa.