Rome — The rise of an urban middle class across much of Africa is stoking demand for food that could curb hunger and cut poverty in rural outposts, a US-based think-tank said on Wednesday. The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) said rural communities were in “a state of crisis”, with high poverty rates and poor services driving hunger and malnutrition. One in five people, or more than 256-million, are hungry in Africa, according to the latest figures from the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation. But there are opportunities too, the IFPRI said in its annual report. In Africa, a growing middle class with higher purchasing power is fuelling a spike in demand for food — with an interesting twist, says IFPRI Africa director Ousmane Badiane. “They are not just asking for imported food, wine and cheese but to have traditional staples on the tables. But they don’t want to eat them the traditional way,” he said. This has given birth to a large number of small agribusinesse...

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