Why root crops are the future of food security in Africa

Despite the dominance of the “Big Three” cereal crops and a steady rise in meat consumption, an overlooked food sector is projected to become ever more central to Africa’s food security and rural economic growth between now and 2050.

Over the next three decades, the remarkable yet humble yam, sweetpotato, cassava and other roots are forecast to create $140 billion in additional market value. This compares to $41 billion for rice, millet and maize, and $70 billion for meat. Meanwhile, banana and plantain are set to add another $50 billion to this balance sheet.

These hardy, locally suited and cost-effective crops are already staple ingredients across the entire continent, accounting for more than 40 per cent of total food production. Their importance is only growing as farmers, particularly female ones, face more challenging growing conditions and weather extremes.