Research Themes

Africa’s Changing Food System: 

Figure 1. Africa’s Growing Urban Population

Rising urbanization (Figure 1) and growing per capita incomes will translate into dramatically increased demand for processed foods, high-value foods (dairy, meat, fruits and vegetables), packaged convenience foods and prepared foods.  As a result the value of marketed and processed foods will grow twice as fast at farm production. 

Changing employment opportunities and skill needs:

Growing demand for packaged convenience foods will require substantial private sector investment in food processing technology.  To scale up processing of cassava, maize, sorghum, yam, and banana products from artisanal to industrial scales, the food industry will need to undertake research on the biochemistry of basic food fermentations and on nutritional outcomes under alternative processing technologies.  To fuel necessary productivity increases in Africa’s modernizing food system will require a steady flow of trained scientific and technical skills in support of farm production, feed industries, storage, supply chain management and food processing industries. 

Implications for agricultural education and training:

Looking forward, agricultural education and training (AET) institutions will increasingly need to supply technical agribusiness skills to private sector employers.  MAFS field investigations have explored these trends and their implications for AET institutions.

Figure 2. Shifting Clients for AET Institutions

This institutional double pivot – from public to private sector clients and from on-farm to post-farm segments of the food system (Figure 2) – will require a major shift in faculty skill sets, laboratory facilities and in systems for actively engaging with private sector employers in the food system. MAFS field investigations have explored these trends and their implications for AET institutions. 

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