In the 1960s, Nigeria's share of global exports was more than 60 per cent in palm oil, 30 per cent in peanuts and 15 per cent in cocoa. Yet today its share in these markets has fallen to five per cent or less. Africa's most populous country is now a net importer of agricultural products, spending more than $4.2 billion in hard currency reserves each year to import wheat, fish, rice, sugar and other essentials to feed its nearly 160 million people.
There is widespread agreement that the private sector should play a greater role in food security, moving markets in ways that help the world's most vulnerable groups. It can, and should, happen. But it has not happened yet – at least not with the necessary scope and or on the necessary scale. Not in a world that must produce 70 per cent more food to feed the two billion more people it will have by 2050. Meeting this goal will require an estimated $83 billion per annum in new investment. Most of this will have to come from the private sector, and we are not there yet.
Farmers produce enough to feed everyone on Earth today. But poor storage, distribution and other factors leave a billion people hungry. Left unattended, this tragic situation will only become worse in the coming years. So innovative approaches are needed to mitigate risks that have so far kept many of the world's major logistics companies from entering markets where they are needed most. Attracting them into new public- private partnerships would allow them to cut today's excessive rates of wasted food by building new silos, cold storage facilities, warehouses and ports.