Pulling together to fix East Africa’s food production


A man feeds fish at a cage on Lake Victoria. Fish farmers in the region complain of high production costs, especially feeds. FILE PHOTO | NMG

With the world's population predicted to reach 10 billion by 2050, the need to address related challenges such as food insecurity, hunger, and malnutrition is becoming increasingly urgent.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), hunger would impact 9.8 percent of the world's population (or over 840 million people) by 2030 if current trends continue.

The problem is unevenly distributed over the globe, and as everyone in Africa knows, the entire continent is in the eye of a storm. The statistical context serves as a constant reminder of the current challenge.

According to the FAO, 250 million people in Africa are undernourished, and demand for high-quality protein sources is increasing in East Africa. The fact that the population is predicted to double by 2050, from 170 million to 340 million people, exacerbates the problem.

Resolving these concerns in Africa – and the rest of the world – requires immediate action. Conflicts caused by humans, economic downturns, and climate change all pose obstacles to our access to sustainable food solutions.

In East Africa, for example, a variety of challenges such as conflict, drought, and inflation are currently causing substantial disruption in the region.

This underscores how critical it is for the food and agriculture sectors to collaborate, develop, and seek wise investments that drive efficient production methods in order to ensure that everyone has consistent access to food.

Growing demand

The new partnership between Unga Group and Nutreco is one such example of the type of collaborations required to help meet the growing demand for protein and improve food security across East Africa.

Nutreco hopes to use the knowledge and know-how of both firms to address the issue of food insecurity in the region by working with Unga Group, a local market leader with vast experience in the region.

The partnership will form two joint ventures in Kenya and Uganda, with both ventures named Tunga Nutrition.

Tunga Nutrition Kenya will expand production capacity at its jointly owned fish feed factory in Nairobi, while Tunga Nutrition Uganda will transform Unga Millers' dormant flour mill in Kampala into a cutting-edge feed mill that will produce animal feeds and concentrates.

When markets are in the process of developing, it is critical for businesses operating in them to transition from an import model to local production in order to continue offering high-quality, low-cost goods. Moving to local production helps markets become self-sufficient and self-sustaining, which improves regional food security.

Larger presence

A larger presence in the region will allow us to interact more closely with the farmers that it supplies its products to, in addition to the production advantage. As one way of addressing the increased need for protein sources such as meat, fish, and eggs, we will collaborate with farmers to improve their on-farm performance and output.

What is evident is that when it comes to raising agricultural output, the three components that must all function together are health, nutrition, and farming.

Even with the best feed and animal nutrition, an animal's full genetic potential will not be realised unless the farm's health and management are of the highest quality.

As a result, we are determined to look beyond simply providing nutrition products and collaborate with farmers to make improvements in both health and agriculture, in order to give the market the best chance of success.

With over 100 production facilities around the world, Nutreco has increased its local production presence to six African countries to date.

New cooperation

In order to fulfil its mission, the company recognises the necessity to expand into markets that demand the most growth and development.

This new cooperation will thus bring major investment to the Eastern African region, assisting Kenya and Uganda in meeting increased demand for food and fighting food insecurity and malnutrition in the region.

As we try to enhance food production output in developing markets, it's critical that farmers and local feed producers collaborate closely, because, in the end, a region's success depends on a mix of efficient farm management and the application of high-quality feeds.

Bastiaanssen is Managing Director, Middle East & Africa at Nutreco