Sub-Saharan Africa is made up of 46 countries, which include countries like Uganda, Malawi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Botswana, to mention a few. Africa as a whole has been seen as a third world continent with an ever rising population. Speculations have it that by the year 2050, Africa will be the most populated continent in the world with over 2.2 billion persons living in Africa.
Agriculture has developed well from the 1950s but there so much work to be done. In Kenya, there is still an increase in the Rural-Urban migration as the youth still prefer to stay already populated cities, hawking in the traffic that stay in the villages to farm and this in a way affecting agriculture. In Nigeria, the story is the same although; everyone sees agriculture as a lucrative business, the thought of plowing the soil and looking dirty with soil on you tend to make lot of people shy away from agriculture. If Africa, we are supposed to be moving at the rate of already advanced continents, combined with our unlimited resources and favorable conditions, but that does not seems to be the case.
There are a lot of challenges the agricultural sector of Sub-Saharan Africa is facing and this is leading to the slow rate of growth of both the sector and the economy within the continent. This post will address these issues and also proffer solutions to these problems:
- Untapped Resources: More than 2/3 of the land in the sub Saharan Region of Africa is still under forest cover. Nigeria has 923,763km2 of land with a population density of 206.62(an indication of overpopulation, mostly as a result of Rural-Urban migration) but still there is a lot of land resources yet to be tapped which would help raise the GDP of the country, but there still seems to be a large appetite for fuels and gold and thus the so called diversification is slowed down. The lands should be opened up and room for agriculture should be given as this will increase productivity of the continent, but there is also the issue of environmental degradation as there have been a large outcry for deforestation and drastic changes in climates, as agriculture is said to account for a percentage of degradation. This has led to the question I will like to ask: “How will we feed Africa, not harm the environment and destroy wild life. Well this problem can be solved with the advent of Organic farming. Africa should not just be talking about Agriculture but sustainable agriculture such that we leave something behind for the future generations. We should not just talk about it but also act, but providing lands, making policies, implementing these policies. Research works should also be carried out to ensure that technology and agriculture keep going hand in hand.
- Land Policy: The land policy in Tanzania suggest that land is owned by three governing bodies (the Ministry of Land, the Ministry involved with justice and the Ministry involved with government) and this makes it difficult to implement the land planning. There are several villages in Tanzania and only a few number of them have been registered with the land ownership and this among other factors have lead the exponential increase in land dispute between farmers and pastoralists. This issue is arising as a result of lack of awareness between the farmers and pastoralist as land is continually extending and being encroached by the later on the former and vice versa. There is also the issue of banks not accepting their land certificate as a collateral and this makes it extremely difficult for the them to access loans and grants to help increase their productivity and in turn their income. The solution to this would be the need increase the awareness of individual on their rights to land. The agencies also involved should be strengthened and the Tanzanian Act should be implemented all around Tanzania. All around Africa, the land policies should be reformed and revamped to favor farmers and pastoralist. Town meetings between the conflicting parties should also be held which would provide them with a platform to air their differences and come to a certain conclusion.
- Lack of technical-know-how: Increased production alongside effectiveness is the heart of Agricultural Production. Technical know-how is not just about operating machines but it is also about gaining up to date knowledge about agriculture due to the changes in variability of seasons which is what educated farmers have access which leads to increase in their own productivity. In the case of the uneducated farmer who has no access to information makes decisions not guided by information and this leads to reduced productivity and the farmer ends with little profit and spending more. But in the past five years, the influx of technology is has been discussed among farmers, biotechnologists and other stake holders. This influx is steady but there is still room for more. Some examples of these influx of( Nutrient Early Warning System) NEWS in Sub-Saharan Africa uses indicators relating to climate, government budgets, diets, infrastructure and other related factor that help to formulate country-specific, risk-related assessment to ensure that the farmers make smart production decisions. Also, to support agricultural initiatives, an online tool known as the Nutrition Sensitive Intervention (NSI) has been developed to help identify the interventions that are needed for the focus of a given project according to the farming system and area of intervention. Cool right? I am a strong believer of Africa’s agriculture too.
- A female dominated work force and little empowerment: Research has it that nearly half of the small holder famers are female, yet women own less than 20% of these lands. Also, 70% of African food is been produced by women. In Laikipa North Kenya, women do not have the right to land, once their husband dies; she loses whatever hold she has on that land. This leaves her unemployed, unable to meet the needs of the family and nutrient deficiency among in her children. Women do not have access to land, input, some even claim they do not get the same attention from extension agents whenever they come around with a new innovation. All these frustrate a woman’s effort to provide for her family and stay employed. If African female farmers are given all that they need to increase their productivity, including land, yields would increase by 20-30% and hunger reduced by 17%. The way out of this problem is to ensure that women are given a seat at the table, at the table of policy making especially rural women because they are in the best position to describe the challenges they are facing. And when this is done, actions should be taken on whatever resolution has been made.
African Agriculture now is not the same in the 1950 as intervention and diversification was placed at the rear with all focus turning to non-renewable energy like oil, gold and diamonds. But if Sub-Saharan region is to boost the GDP through diversification and not just diversification in the agricultural sector but also find a way to intertwine the diversification going on each sector together. A very good example of this is Agro-tourism which would increase by 60% by 2020 as every 30 seconds tourist set foot in a new country. The world has gone far but I believe we would catch up and we would all have our stories to tell. So what problems do you think Africa is facing and also we would also love it if you could provide solutions to these problems. But really, where do you think African Agriculture would be 2030, Think, Project into the future.