Wheat Consumption in Sub-Saharan Africa: Trends, Drivers, and Policy Implications
Wheat consumption in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is increasing rapidly, faster than any other major food grain. Between 2000 and 2009, per capita wheat consumption in SSA increased at a rate of 0.35 kilogram (kg)/year, outpacing maize and rice. Total wheat consumption increased by nearly 650,000 Metric tons (MT)/year. Staple grain consumption in Sub-Saharan Africa is rising at the same time that the region is becoming more dependent on imported staples. Wheat consumed in SSA is increasingly coming from imports from non-SSA countries as wheat production in SSA has failed to keep up with growing demand. Africa’s growing reliance on imported staples including wheat received a great deal of attention in the 1980s and 1990s, yet there has been relatively little research on this issue in recent years. This paper takes stock of trends in wheat consumption and net imports in SSA since 1980, and identifies the drivers of growing demand for wheat at country-level in SSA. It also discusses the potential dilemmas posed by SSA’s increasing reliance on imported staples, and examines the pros and cons of various options for African countries to meet their staple grain needs.
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