Kojo Anku left a high-paying job on Wall Street last year to return to his native Ghana, not to replicate his financial career there but to launch an aquaponics farm, raising organic lettuce, tomatoes, and herbs indoors in nutrient-rich vats. That business, in central Accra, is now booming.
“I feel I’m making a bigger difference in the lives of others by applying my knowledge and capital to food production,” Anku says.
“Sure, my family and I are adjusting, but it’s worth it to help Ghana leapfrog to the forefront of innovative farming.”
Anku is one of tens of thousands of African émigrés who are returning home with money and skills, hoping to cash in on a farming boom that is remaking the continent.
According to the World Bank, agricultural GDP in sub-Saharan African grew from 2.3 percent per year in the 1980s to 3.8 percent per year from 2000 to 2005—a jump of 65 percent.
… indeed the haunting images of starving Africans are so ingrained in our collective psyche that many people still cling to the notion that Africa can’t feed itself—and maybe never will.
That conclusion, however familiar, is wrong.
Fewer Africans face famine now than at any time since the world began counting. While it’s true that sub-Saharan Africa as a whole still leads the world in poverty and food insecurity rates, it is also true that in Uganda in East Africa and in the 15 countries of West Africa, food production now outpaces population growth.
In Ghana, for instance, farm output has jumped by 5 percent every year for the past 20 years, which helps explain why the poverty rate there has fallen by half.
Even infamously food-insecure Malawi and Ethiopia now grow record amounts of crops and even export surpluses to their neighbors.