By Faustinus Angmortey
It is estimated that by the year 2050, the population of Africa would have doubled from the current figure of 1.2 billion to 2.4 billion. This is a population that relies heavily on agriculture to survive and drive their economies. Yet, for decades, African agriculture suffered from neglect. Many governments devoted only a minuscule percentage of their budgets to farming, and donor funding shifted away from agriculture to other sectors like health and environment. Agriculture has been quietly relegated to the background and left to a few to cater for the many.
Most of the farming is done by small scale farmers who engage in agriculture to feed their families and make some money. But most of these farmers lack modern equipment and technology which results in meager yields. Modernization can be helpful in increasing production, but it will not be that easy to jettison a system that is already comfortable for most farmers. The most difficult step will be dumping the old agricultural practices and adopting modern methods that guarantee higher yields.
Investments are a necessity because about 60 percent of the African population work directly or indirectly in agriculture. Most often they fail to thrive, because they are small scale farmers. A huge percentage of them work the land with their bare hands. Investments both in financial capital and human capital have become imperative.
Trends observed on one of Africa’s top online job boards indicates that the agricultural sector is starved on man power and adequate human resource.
Modernization means spending a lot of money to buy new equipment and studying new technologies. But the sad truth is that many farmers have a difficult time getting access to credit facilities. Most of them do not even own the lands they work on. It is high time that a sustainable and accountable financial system to replace the much maligned land collateral system in most African countries is put in place.
For this reason, it is imperative to educate the farmers and encourage them to form or join cooperatives. This will result in them having much more bargaining power and help them get the credit they need to buy the necessary equipment. It would also help them to negotiate and ensure that they can sell their produce at fair prices.
Here comes the really sad part, because most African countries do not produce enough food on their own, huge sums are spent annually importing food. This means that the people are spending huge chunks of their salaries on only food when they could have grown that locally. Truth be told, the state of food and nutrition security in Africa remains very fragile.
With increased investment, better policies and more support, the farmers can produce more and Africa can receive a huge boost in the agricultural sector. Boosting agricultural production is not only the key to reducing hunger in Africa, but it also makes economic sense. Because in almost every African country including most of those blessed with oil and minerals, agriculture constitutes the spine of the economy. The size of the annual harvest is often the most significant element in overall economic growth
Governments and leaders have to make the necessary funding available. We need to increase our levels of investment into agriculture in Africa. However much governments spend on agriculture, the real test is whether those funds reach farmers on the ground, to help them increase their productivity. In country after country, experience has shown that farmers’ access to key inputs — especially fertilizer, high-yielding seeds and irrigation can be crucial in boosting their harvests.
Government subsidies may be helpful in making such inputs affordable for poor farmers
Particular care must be taken to ensure that assistance reaches women farmers, experts point out. Whether agricultural services are to provide quality seeds, affordable fertilizers, marketing assistance or credit, they “must give the necessary support to the women farmers, who produce the majority of Africa’s food.
For those already in the agricultural sector, career and professional advice can be obtained online at the WealthBankers job arena. The road to success in the agricultural sector can be narrow and crooked but with the right guidance and counseling, the future can be brighter.
WealthBankers Job Arena