Advertise with fastmoving.co.za
 
 

Faster and more sustainable agricultural growth is crucial not only to the continent’s economy, but also to its ability to feed and employ its surging population.
Faster and more sustainable agricultural growth is crucial not only to the continent’s economy, but also to its ability to feed and employ its surging population.

Faster and more sustainable agricultural growth is crucial for Africa

ECONOMIC NEWS

bdlive.co.za - Oct 12th 2017, 14:12

When the economies of Nigeria and SA recently rebounded, it wasn’t oil or minerals that did the trick. It was agriculture. Faster and more sustainable agricultural growth is crucial not only to the continent’s economy but also to its ability to feed and employ its surging population. 

Agriculture still accounts for a quarter of GDP and as much as two-thirds of employment in Sub-Saharan Africa. In fact, agricultural growth has the biggest impact on non-farm income and reducing poverty.

Unfortunately, Africa’s agricultural productivity is about half the global average, while population pressures and intense cultivation have degraded 65% of its cropland and 30% of its pasture. African agriculture, which is overwhelmingly rain-fed, is also uniquely vulnerable to climate change.

Growing more food in a more sustainable way will require buy-in from small-plot farmers, who account for 90% of all farms in Sub-Saharan Africa. While there were three farmers for every city dweller in 1990, rapid urbanisation means that by 2020 one farmer will have to feed two of his or her urban counterparts. Even as regional famines have revived debate about the need to scale up agribusiness, making small-scale farming more productive, sustainable and profitable will remain key to feeding and employing the continent.

The good news is that governments are spending more on agriculture, which Nigeria’s previous administration dubbed "the new oil". Private investment is also increasing, both in cultivation and in offering farmers more options for buying seed and fertiliser and selling their crops. Foreign donors can help by reviving their agricultural aid, which has lagged in recent years — especially by increasing support for universities and vocational programmes. Joint efforts to restore degraded land are also gaining momentum.

Realising Africa’s vision of a continent-wide, free-trade area would open up a bigger internal market. Cutting red tape, harmonising standards, and making it easier for small farmers to get insurance and credit would also help. One innovative programme in Kenya works with lenders and borrowers to include climate-smart farming practices in loan terms, protecting land while reducing the risk of default.

Of course, more roads, irrigation networks, ports and other infrastructure are also necessary to make farming more efficient, but progress does not necessarily depend on money spent. When it comes to Africa’s millions of small farmers, even a cheap and reliable paper moisture meter — vital for measuring whether crops are dry enough to store and avoid spoilage — can make a huge difference.
© BusinessLIVE MMXVII 

Read more about: sa economy | farming | agriculture

Related News

Digital footprint helps farmers step into future
22/09/2019 - 09:59
The potential to increase Africa’s agricultural yields through the strategic use of data could place the continents’ farmers at the heart of tomorrow’s global economy.

Retail sales remain muted with consumers under pressure
20/09/2019 - 14:31
Retail sales for July marginally declined to 2 percent year on year as sales growth continued to reflect a muted demand in South Africa, with consumers’ discretionary income under strain.

4 reasons to be hopeful about South Africa’s economy
12/09/2019 - 14:40
Markets responded positively to South Africa’s economic growth rebounding in the second quarter, up 3.1%, and 0.9% for the year to June 2019.

Smarter mobility key to a sustainable South Africa
11/09/2019 - 13:19
The World Economic Forum has revealed that by 2050, 70% of the world’s population will be living and operating in urban areas. Considering the resultant congestion and air pollution, which are already challenges requiring mitigation in 2019, mobility and energy should be top of mind for those making the shift towards cities of the future.

Manufacturing production shrinks for second month in July
11/09/2019 - 13:01
Manufacturing production recorded its second consecutive contraction in July, in line with analysts’ expectations.