NAIROBI, April 11 (Xinhua) -- An African Development Bank (AfDB) official on Thursday urged African countries to put in place polices that would help cut the continent's food import bill.
Africa's food imports are expected to rise from 3.5 trillion shillings (35 billion U.S. dollars) in 2015 to 110 billion dollars by 2025 if urgent interventions are not put in place to boost local food production, AfDB regional sector manager Joseph Akrofi Coompson told Xinhua in Nairobi.
"Africa is losing valuable foreign exchange used in importation of food despite having over 65 percent of all available global arable land," Coompson said on the sidelines of an AfDB workshop on portfolio improvement in Nairobi.
Rising food import is being driven by expanding populations as well as changing food preferences that led to increased consumption of foods sourced outside of the region, he said.
It is inexcusable that Africa, where over 60 percent of its population depends on agriculture for their livelihoods, is unable to feed itself, Coompson said.
He noted that 257 million people, or a staggering fifth of the continent's total population, are undernourished.
"This trend is getting worse as a result of slow economic growth, conflict and climate change," Coompson said. "In the absence of concerted and decisive actions, the number of undernourished could increase to 320 million within the next five years."