Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Processing zones for staple crops, an initiative aimed at boosting food security, have been earmarked for several locations in Africa, and KwaZulu-Natal’s Dube Port is seen as providing valuable lessons.

Such zones have been implemented in Malaysia, Vietnam and in Latin American countries, as well as in Tunisia and Morocco, the African Development Bank (AfDB) says.

The bank views agriculture in Africa as a key to unlocking export growth.

It estimates that more than 65% of the world’s arable land is located in Africa. And, while 61% of Africans work in agriculture, the sector accounts for only 25% of gross domestic product (GDP).

The AfDB has entered into a collaboration with the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (Unido) to step up work that would help African countries to add value to their agricultural output, and ultimately to industrialise.

"Achieving Africa’s industrial potential will not happen by chance; strong partnerships such as the one our two organisations have now formalized are key," Unido MD Philippe Scholtès says.

The AfDB says several of its members countries have sought its assistance in developing agro-industrial parks with a view to transforming their agricultural sectors.

Renewed attempts to establish processing centres in the mould of SA’s Dube Agro Trade Port and Tunisia’s Bizerte Agropole.

In terms of a new agreement, signed this week, the AfDB and Unido will co-operate on joint activities of shared interest in areas such as agro-industry development, eco-industrial parks, investment in innovation and technology, enterprise development, trade and capacity-building, and access to finance.

The agreement was signed in South Korea’s second city, Busan, the site of this year’s annual meeting of the AfDB’s board of governors, who are largely finance ministers of its member countries.