It is probable to sustain growth in Africa, but not without breaking eggs to make the omelet, only if the present-day transformation plan succeeds in a medium term. The process of transforming sustained growth is an intricate process that necessitates total commitment; there is no quick fix in any developmental process. Africa must strengthen internal market through ongoing reforms in the agricultural sector.
One main area that is working for the European economies is their internal structure, relying on productive economy as result of an early investment in social infrastructure, and continuous investment particularly on education while encouraging and supporting free enterprise in all sectors of the economies. Nevertheless, the real challenge for Africa is how to sustain the present-day growth. The micro-policy architects must come out with strategies and virtuous policy framework to start the process of sectoral modification. To realize this, Africa must identify areas of weakness and address them with realistic approach. Predominantly, Africa lacks the culture of saving and investment.
The notable growth rate of Africa’s economies are inspiring a new economic order, consequently, economic growth must breed development, it must be envisioned in availability of food production and supply to the increasing population, a sharp increase must be pragmatic in the health delivery and services to the people. Most prominently, growth in the GDP will be pointless with no future sustenance if much of the youthful population have little or no access to obtain modern and necessary skills to aid growth and development of Africa’s economy. It is quite unfortunate but the reasons that Africa is not keeping pace in the provision of food sufficiency for the population include insufficient financing and infrastructure for research; lack of adequate link between research and development; financing of development, where available, is not realistic or has been politicized and as such, does not reach the target farmers. You cannot transform Agriculture without the infrastructure; you cannot supply inputs through cell phones in a region where there is no power and literacy level is wanting.
Agriculture can solve many of Africa’s problems like food security and joblessness, if given the type of attention it merits. With the type of arable land we have in Africa, things should not be this way. Shift in mindset is paramount in overcoming the problem of low production on the continent. In spite of Africa having a rich biodiversity and most of the people are engaged in farming activities, food production is still very wanting. Statistics show that Africa imports US $25 billion worth of food every single year, with only US $1 billion coming from Africa. It means that we are not fully exploiting the opportunities in this vital sector. It is high time we understood that agriculture can no longer be treated as a social activity or a normal development program. It must be regarded as a business and managed as an enterprise because it is the future of Africa’s socio-economic development.
Mechanization and irrigation programs must be emphasized throughout the continent, while governments must concentrate on finding more incentives to farmers. We must think of mechanization; irrigation in Africa’s arable land is still as low as 3%, while farmers still mainly use hoes to prepare their farms. We need to employ production methods that are judicious, that add value and volume to the produce. Governments should ensure that farm produce have ready markets. They should also register all biometrics about the farmers in their regions, so that they follow them up and know all their hiccups. Africa’s youthful population should be equipped to develop agri-business models that not only create jobs but also contribute significantly to the continent’s food basket.
To bring about the much needed revolution in agricultural sector in Africa there is necessity to concentrate more on developing and creating enabling environment for the rural areas to grow as the nature of the new growth in Africa is one that is inclusive and opens up the rural economy. It would be ridiculous and counterproductive, to think of developing agriculture in Africa while farmers are still using hoes, machetes, axes and usual and low yielding seeds. Africa should be committed to achieve an all-inclusive growth. Agriculture has regrettably been viewed to be synonymous with poverty, no country can achieve food security goal without agricultural mechanization. The low level of mechanization limits the ability of farmers to expand cultivated areas, perform timely farm operations and achieve economies of scale in increasing food production. Although Kenya, for a very long time, has not conducted a valid inventory of our tractor density, this may be less than 2 tractors to 1,000 hectares. With the improved obligation of the present governments to end unbridled importation of all kinds of food items and make the Africa self-sufficient in food will deepen and widen the Private Sector-driven agricultural mechanization agenda, strategies in partnership.
Titus Gicheru is the Team Leader, QuipBank Trust Limited.