Agriculture

AGRICULTURE: AFRICA’S UNTAPPED GOLDMINE FOR SUSTAINABILITY

Agriculture and economy sustainability

Agriculture, from the inception of time, is profoundly linked with sustainability issues as a vital development in the rise of sedentary anthropological civilization, science, practice, cultivation of crops, and rearing of livestock. It has recorded success in meeting the growing demands of the world’s population in the last half of a century and remains a major source of sustainability needed for humans to survive.

However, Africa, which has close to 63% of the world uncultivated arable land, 60% of its working population in agriculture, and a potential to become the world’s breadbasket, has failed to meet the required standard for its people due to low productivity and still imports two-thirds of the food and products it consumes, with almost every country in its region suffering from micronutrient deficiencies, as it still harbors close to 38% of the worlds hungry people.

The low productivity of Africa’s agricultural sector leaves the African GDP at 16.5% and if steps are not taken to improve its productivity in time, the number of extremely poor people will rise from 420million to 550million by 2025. In 2017, Africa spent 64.5billion USD on importing food and may spend more in the subsequent and forthcoming years (AfDB, 2018).

This is unmaintainable, reckless, unnecessary, and high-priced. Nigeria as an example has lost close to 10billion USD in annual exports opportunities from groundnut, cocoa, and cotton alone due to the continuous decline in the production of these commodities which have not kept pace with the growing population, and this, in turn, results in rising food imports and declining levels of national food-sufficiency (FMARD, 2008).

While the growing middle class in Africa which is estimated at 300 million people represents a budding lucrative market for goods and services, the demand for more nutritious, varied, and processed foods is on the increase, this can generate new jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities for youths, farm households, and rural communities along the agribusiness value chain. Growth
in agriculture eliminates hunger, creates jobs, is effective in reducing poverty than other sectors, responsible for stimulating productivity in sectors like food processing.

This, together with an appropriate regional integration to create a consolidated market, Africa could earn an extra 20 billion USD annually; which is a huge boost in combating poverty and converting a growing human capital into a dividend. With investments in agriculture, putting out proper policies, and making loans accessible to farmers across the continent comes digitalization for agriculture which has the potential to support agricultural transformation in Africa and do that sustainably and inclusively for the millions of farmers in Africa.

According to a study by CTA and Dalberg Advisors, it found nearly 400 different digital agricultural solutions with 33miliion registered farmers across Africa which could catapult the present turnover of the agricultural market of 143million USD with a penetration of about 6% to a 2.6billion USD of the total addressable market.

The African development bank (AfDB) nonetheless has been a major player in seeing to the end of hunger on the continent and its constant cry on investing in agriculture to improve food sustainability through its initiative known as “FEED AFRICA” that is to run from 2016 till 2025 whose aim is to inject 24 billion USD (largest of such effort ever) into African agriculture and action points includes making sure home-grown foods are cheaper than imported foods, increase
in rural infrastructure, feed the population, and most importantly turn Africa into a net food exporter.

Some of the strategies already in place are to boost productivity and strengthen markets, large scale dissemination of productivity-boosting technology, development of seeds specific to the African setting, the expansion, and technology platforms to support financial transactions and disseminate information.

A vibrant, sustainable, and resilient agriculture sector is vital for Africa’s economic future as this will contribute substantially to employment, wealth creation, improvement of health and nutrition on the continent, and also a keystone of Africa’s economic transformation. Indeed, agriculture stands at the cusp of transformational change and the need to invest and cultivate is yet on the shoulders of all its occupants to bear a rich harvest tomorrow.

This article was written by Ajewole Emmanuel Ayobami, A content writer with TYLC.

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