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What Africa Should Do To Harness Its Huge Agricultural Potential

What Africa Should Do To Harness Its Huge Agricultural Potential

The opportunities in Agriculture are quite numerous. Over the years, there has been a growing interest in increasing investment in the agricultural sector to unlock its numerous opportunities for the betterment of humanity. Recent development in agricultural technology is significantly improving the contribution of agriculture to global wealth, with the food and agribusiness sector leading the ecosystem.

About 9 billion people are expected to inhabit the world by 2050. This raises concerns on how to attain a commensurate growth in the world’s food production by that year. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, the projected 9 billion population that world agriculture has to feed by 2050 implies that an additional agricultural investment of over 80 billion dollars is needed yearly to meet the targets for reducing poverty and the numbers of the malnourished.

Although Africa’s economy is largely agrarian, agricultural growth in the continent has been tardy compared to other parts of the world, especially countries in the global north. Africa’s Agriculture constitutes 14 percent GDP of the economy, and agricultural-related industry accounts for nearly half of all economic activities in the sub-Saharan regions.

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In sub-Saharan Africa, less than 6 percent of the available two hundred million hectares of land is irrigated for agricultural productivity compared to 14 and 37 percent in Latin America and Asia respectively. Despite its huge agricultural potential, sub-Saharan Africa is the most malnourished part of the world. One in every four malnourished people in the world is from Africa.

Even though agricultural activities such as ecotourism, grain production, and animal production hold promising futures for Africa, it is evident that more needs to be done in terms of policymaking and implementation for the continent to achieve its huge agricultural potential. According to a report from McKinsey & Company in February 2019, Africa could actually produce two to three times more cereals and grains which would add 20 percent more cereals and grains to worldwide 2.6 billion tons of output and a similar increase in the production of horticulture crops, fishes and livestock could be witnessed.

Factors reported to militate against Africa’s agriculture sector include; poor financing, poor policies, poor infrastructure, high illiteracy, loss of farming character among the people, lack of access to land perennial insecurity etc. Stakeholders in the industry need to work collectively to weather these barriers that have since placed the continent at the ebb of the global food system.

More efforts should be made to encourage the use of new technologies and methodologies in agricultural activities in the continent with a particular focus on the agricultural data value chain.

While there has been no doubt an improvement in foreign investment in the agriculture of the continent over the years, there is still a scarcity of policies that protect the interest of Africans against foreign exploitation. According to the United Nations, foreign Investment contracts in Africa have captured nearly 50 million acres of land but these contracts were not always conducted diligently or openly, and local people are often overlooked as viable owners. Therefore African governments should protect the agricultural investment ecosystem of the continent through stringent policies that discourage foreign exploitation and consequently position Africa to achieve its agricultural potentials and gain massively from its plethora of natural resources.

Furthermore, more concerted efforts are needed from the agricultural stakeholders including the government, social enterprises and private investors to resolve the increasing security threats of the region which invariably affect its agricultural output in adverse ways.

Lastly, African leaders should think inwardly to locally address the impact of climate change in the continent, especially as this relates to the region’s food system.

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