AGRICULTURE: AFRICA’S UNTAPPED GOLDMINE FOR SUSTAINABILITY

Agriculture, from the inception of time is profoundly linked with sustainability issues as a vital development in the rise of sedentary anthropological civilization. It is a science and practice involving cultivation of crops and rearing of livestock. It has recorded successes in meeting the growing demands of the world’s population in the last half century and remains a major source of sustainability needed for humans to survive. However, Africa – which has close to 63% of the world’s uncultivated arable land, 60% of its working population in agriculture and a potential to become the world’s bread basket – has failed to meet the required standard for its people due to low productivity. She still imports two-thirds of the food and products she consumes, with almost every country in her region suffering from micronutrient deficiencies, as Africa still harbors close to 38% of the world’s 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 coming 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 the 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 is able to 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 and is responsible for stimulating productivity in other sectors like food processing. This, together with an appropriate regional integration helps 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 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. Nonetheless, the African development bank (AfDB) has been a major player in seeing to the end of hunger on the continent. Its constant cry is about investing in agriculture to improve food sustainability through its initiative known as “FEED AFRICA”. This initiative is to run from 2016 till 2025 with the aim to inject 24 billion USD (largest of such efforts 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 in order to bear a rich harvest tomorrow.

AJEWOLE EMMANUEL AYOBAMI is a content writer with The Young Leaders Council

 



1 thought on “AGRICULTURE: AFRICA’S UNTAPPED GOLDMINE FOR SUSTAINABILITY”

  1. You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find
    this topic to be actually something which I think I would never understand.
    It seems too complicated and extremely broad for me.
    I’m looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!

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