Africa’s food import bill has more than tripled, reaching an average of US$40 billion a year. Much of this imported food could be produced locally, creating much-needed jobs and incomes for the nations’ youth and smallholder farmers as well as improving food security on the continent. However, if Africa reversed the trend, the US$40billion that goes out of the continent is said to be able to bridge different gaps within the continent’s agricultural sector. Speaking to The New Times, the acting Managing Director of Africa Green Revolution Forum (AGRF), Jennifer Baarn said one of the ways to save the US$40 billion is addressing intercontinental trade barriers by easing access to markets. “Why can’t a farmer in East Africa provide for the market in west Africa? Also, we need to reduce the cost of logistics. Sometimes it’s cheaper to import foodstuff from out of Africa than actually buying within Africa,” she said. Baarn was speaking at a press briefing ahead of the upcoming 12th annual AGRF summit scheduled for September in Kigali. The AGRF summit is the world’s premier forum for African agriculture, bringing together stakeholders in the agricultural landscape to take practical actions and share lessons that are meant to move African agriculture forward. The issue of the US$40 billion that Africa spends on importing food that can be locally produced came up during the press briefing and attracted a debate about who needs to do what to keep the money in Africa. “We need to address value chain as well because farmers still don’t have access to seeds and modern technologies and some tech companies will tell you that they are not interested in introducing agro-technologies because of bureaucracies. Also, there is a problem of access to finance for farmers,” Baarn said. The AGRF 2022 Summit is expected to provide a platform to reflect on the coordinated large-scale action by leaders, institutions, investors, coalitions, and individuals to accelerate action towards translating commitments made into actionable strategies and progress on the ground. According to the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Agriculture, Jean Claude Musabyimana, if Africa invested US$ 40 billion in the major agricultural game changers as outlined in the previous summit, the money is likely to be saved. “Those game changers include improving accessibility to nutritious food, reducing food waste and losses, increasing value chain, increasing access to sustainable technologies, and inclusive innovative financing system. If we invested US$ 40 billion in these areas, we are likely to stop importing food from outside Africa,” said Musabyimana. Meanwhile, during the summit, there will be a deal room where financial commitments will be made. This year’s summit will be held under the theme “Grow, Nourish, Reward – Bold Actions for Resilient Food Systems”. It will convene leaders from governments, businesses, civil society, and international organisations alongside innovators, financiers, experts, scientists, entrepreneurs, and youth.