poverty allleviation

Exploiting Agribusiness Opportunities in Africa: Food Security, Employment, and Economic growth

Photo credit: esoko.com

In various continents of the world, Agribusiness has been known to be a driver of economic growth. In Africa, it has a positive impact as it accounts for 30% of national income as well as a bulk of export revenues and employment. Kenya for example, is a key producer of tea, accounting for 59.6% of total production in Africa. The country is a leading tea exporter and one of the largest black tea producers in the world. With an estimate of 33 million small holder farms in Africa, a vibrant agriculture driven economy can cause increase in yields, increase in income generation, reduce in post- harvest losses and thereby put an end to food wastage. Agribusiness is capable of initiating the agricultural growth that will positively improve the livelihood of Africa’s increasing population. It can fasten Africa’s progress towards development.

In Nigeria for example, over 78.4 million people are willing, able and actively looking for job, development in agribusiness can have a direct impact on this people because an efficient and effective agribusiness will lead to increased employment in agro industrial activities.

Agribusiness does not only cover farmers it covers input suppliers, agro processors, traders, exporters and retailers. It is a term which indicates farming and all other industries, and services, that constitute the supply chain. The business of agriculture is not to be neglected in development priorities, the focus should not only be on urban industrialization, government need to get their role right on building necessary industrial capability and capacity, strengthening managerial capacity and promoting institutional services.

To successfully achieve desired result in agribusiness, understanding and comprehension of the nature of the business and its untapped opportunities is important. Food importation in African countries has to reduce and promotion of local agricultural products has to be carried out adequately. Although there are challenges as regards climate, policies, governance, laws, infrastructure and basic services, the goals to end poverty, hunger, have improved nutrition and sustainable agriculture should be a focus that will ensure motivation. To reduce the incidence of extreme poverty and unemployment, increase in importation, massive migration of rural peasants into the cities, agribusiness needs to be promoted and financially supported efficiently and effectively.

Africa’s projected population by 2050 is 2 billion; the continent has an estimate of more than one- fourth of the total un-fed people in the world. To guide against starvation, rapid rise in food prices, severe malnutrition, food riots, extreme poverty, higher rate of social vices and diseases; there is indeed a crucial need, to exploit the opportunities in agribusiness and make the business of agriculture more productive and profitable like never before so as to achieve improved social outcomes and solve the problem of poverty and food insecurity.

For a better result, Africa needs to take important decisions concerning agribusiness opportunities and act in a better way.

Written by Idowu T.Owoeye

 

Improving Agricultural Productivity in Nigeria to Boost the Economy and Create Employment

Photo credit: Flicker

Agriculture is a very important tool for achieving the Millennium Development Goal. Agriculture is considered a catalyst for the overall development of any nation. In sub-Saharan Africa, Agriculture is a very important tool for improving growth, overcoming poverty and improving food security. It is thus a critical sector that drives the economic development and industrialization of the developing nation, and serve as a means of reducing unemployment. Increase in agricultural productivity is important for growth of the Nigerian economy. Nigeria spends close to $10 billion on food importation annually, if invested in agriculture, this amount would have generated a high percentage of employment.

 

Nigeria has huge agricultural potential with an arable land potential of 98 million hectares, out of which 84 million hectares is cultivatable, Nigeria’s agricultural potential remains untapped.  For a nation to grow its economy and provide employment, the government must be able to do massive investment in Agriculture. But the past and the current administration of this country has not been able to invest massively in Agriculture and has also not been able to tap into the contribution to the economy of the nation. There are some countries that have been able to tap into this benefit and this has subsequently created a rapid growth in economy of those countries e.g. China, Mexico, India, Taiwan, Chile, etc.

In China, agriculture led the way to the emergence of this Asian giant as a major force in the world economy. This is especially remarkable when you consider that China, with a population of over 1.3 billion people, is able to produce enough food for her people, and yet has more than enough extra to make her a major exporter of agricultural produce to the world. The importance of Agriculture as a means of generating employment and also contributing to the growth of the nation’s economy cannot be undermined.

One of the ways in which this present government can lift people out of poverty and provide massive employment opportunity for our youth is by the nation’s massive investment in Agriculture. Agriculture alone can provide millions of job opportunity for our teaming youths who are unemployed.

Factors that continues to affect Agricultural productivity which the Nigerian government have done nothing or little about are enumerated as follows;

Lack of price stability: There has not been a stable price for agricultural produce in this country.   The price of agricultural produce continues to rise and fall, price stabilization is necessary and important if farmers would make good profit from their investments. Farmers are usually discouraged, when low returns are gotten after sales of their products. The government should provide a ready market, buying from small scale farmers and selling to the bigger markets. This helps to avoid the role of middleman in the selling of agricultural products and thus helps keep prices stable.

Poor funding of research in Agriculture: One of the major constraint in agricultural productivity is poor funding of research in agriculture. There should also be an increase funding for research in Agriculture. According to research this country is losing about 24.7% of field crops to infestation of agricultural pests and diseases which usually lead to decrease in agricultural output. By providing funds for research in Agriculture, researchers will be able to breed or develop crops that will be resistance to insect, pest and diseases, therefore reducing or eliminating the use of agrochemicals and also reduce crop loses to pest and diseases. They will also be able to develop crops that are high yielding, nutritious and has fast growth rate.

Decline in agricultural extension services: There has been a decline in agricultural extension services and this has affected agricultural productivity in Nigeria. The government should focus on Agricultural extension services. By this the extension workers will be able to transfer the latest agricultural research or innovation to the farmers. They will also be able to train farmers on how to handle modern technological tools and equipment. By this the farmers will be able to put the knowledge gained into use to boost their agricultural output.

Poor funding of Agricultural sector: Poor funding is a major factor that has continued to affect the growth of Agricultural sector in this country. There should be an increase funding of Agricultural sector. The government at all levels must take the development of agriculture as a national priority. The government should dedicate a larger percentage of its annual budget to the development of the agricultural sector. The government should be able to provide loans with low or without interest to the farmers. The government should also be able to provide free and subsidized agricultural inputs like seeds fertilizers, animal feeds, day old chicks, fish fingerlings, agro-chemicals, technological equipment etc.

Lack of modern agricultural tools and equipment: One of the ways in which we have not been able to increase our agricultural production is that we continue to practice subsistence farming. We should be able to shift from subsistence farming to mechanized farming. For agricultural sector to be developed and employment generated there must be a shift from the traditional methods of farming to a more technologically advanced/mechanized method of farming and high yielding methods of planting. The government should be able to lease out new modern technological equipment at a low rate to the farmers who will not be able to afford it also subsidize it for those who will be able to afford it. By doing so the nation will be able to boost her agricultural productivity.

Lack of storage and processing facilities: Many of agricultural crops are being lost to post harvest losses, 20-40% of crops in Nigeria are being lost to post harvest losses. The government should be able to provide good storage and processing facilities to the rural farmers. Storage and processing of agricultural products is one of the major factors affecting the growth of agricultural sector. Losses experienced after harvesting is very discouraging. It is imperative for the government to put in place a system of ensuring adequate storage and processing of harvested produce as this will stand as a sure way of encouraging farmers and thereby increasing production. Storage and processing are critical in ensuring that the commodities produced at a particular period are available for consumption whenever and wherever they are required.

Lack of rural infrastructure: Infrastructure includes roads and railway system, educational and health facilities, social services such as potable water and electricity and communication system. Agricultural productivity in Nigeria has been negatively affected due to low level of development of infrastructure. In the rural areas where majority of the small holders operate, inadequate infrastructure constitutes a major constraint to agricultural investment, production and trade. Many of the youths in the rural areas have left farming and migrated to the urban areas due to lack of good infrastructure in the rural areas. Therefore government should invest heavily in rural infrastructure development that will promote private investment in all areas of agriculture.

Importation of food items: Continued importation of food items has continued to negatively affect local production of agricultural crops. We continue to import food like rice, maize, wheat, processed tomatoes, frozen foods etc. If we are going to be serious about the development of agricultural sector, we should be able to close our doors to the importation of agricultural products that can be produced or grown successfully in this country. By doing so we will be able to encourage and boost local production and processing of agricultural products.

This blog post was written by Abosede Kayode, A graduate of Agricultural Science from the Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta, Ogun state. Nigeria.

He can be contacted via email at kayudex124@gmail.com

OPINION: The increase of labor-saving machinery and the present state of Nigerian Agriculture, a challenge or not a challenge?

Agricultural machine working in the late evening. Photo credit: Flickr, Ookpik Prod.

Agricultural machine working in the late evening. Photo credit: Flickr, Ookpik Prod.

The introduction of the increase in “labor-saving machinery” for farm practices is indeed a requirement for improved output and productivity; however its implication on agricultural development with the present state of the country should not be overlooked.

According to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), Nigeria has over 84 million hectares of arable land of which only 40% of the 84 million hectares is cultivated. Cultivation of the 50.4 million hectares of land, – which is capable of being plowed to grow crops and has huge potential to be productive – is one of the diverse ways in which increased output can be achieved other than focusing squarely on increasing labor-saving machinery in the country.

Increase in mechanized agriculture will definitely replace human labor – in a case of a country with abundant labor the importation of labor saving machinery will not only affect the physical environment negatively but it will create more rural unemployment and may not really cause a reduction in per-unit cost of food production.

Even though improved mechanization will help increase farm output, there are over 78.4 million people in Nigeria  that are within the working age population, these persons  are willing, able and actively looking for work. The striking effect on the quantity of output per worker if “labor-saving machinery” increases cannot be overstated, for example, one man operating a harvester will accomplish in a single hour what will be required by hundreds of men using crude implements. But in a situation, of few land ownership, scarce capital, and high rate of unemployment the importation of labor-saving machinery could increase the problem of poverty and unemployment, and be anti-developmental.

Do we need to ask ourselves how many hectares of land have the potential to be productive? How many have been cultivated on? How sufficient is the capital of the present day Nigerian farmer? How many hectares of land are owned by individual Nigerian farmers? Where does most agricultural activity occur in Nigeria? What is the state of the rural area? It is a known fact that good roads, adequate storage facilities, incentives to farmers, improved farm income and access to credit will attract more youths to agriculture than the increase in labor-saving machinery.

We should focus and fix our most severe agricultural constraints to attract both young and old to agriculture and exploit other opportunities for significant and sustainable land expansion before facing the challenges of labor-saving machinery.

This blog post was written by Idowu T. Owoeye

email; idowuowoeye6@gmail.com

HOW MUCH ASSISTANCE ARE FARMERS REALLY GETTING FOR THEIR AGRO-STARTUP

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We are all saying poverty and hunger can be eradicated in Africa, to be particular in Nigeria, but little had been done to help the farmers that are actually going to make this ambition come true.

Are farmers really getting the desired help that will make this goal achievable or are farmers ignorant of what they should have done to get help?

It is saddening to see that almost 95% of these farmers are peasant farmers (trying to feed their immediate family). They use traditional farming method to work so that they can have something to eat and sometimes sell in order to feed their families and to pay some bills.

Taking a deeper look, if social entrepreneurs, agricultural supporting agencies, NGO’S and government ministry in charge of Agriculture are actually fulfilling their promises – relating to supporting these rural farmers financially and educationally while offering advice to these farmers – then things would be much more better.

Imagine a farmer who owns very large hectares of land, with only cutlass and hoes to work with, the inputted effort will be less and eventually his energy will not attain much. Compare a farmer who has farm equipment available to him for farming and wealth of information regarding what he has to do, the input will be encouraging, directly or indirectly he will make positive impact in his immediately environment, his family will have food to eat, proceeds gotten from what had been sold will be used to pay bills.

Remember also these individual farmers represent their families and the resulting effect will be obvious because each family will have food to eat and poverty will be reduced. Now imagine these 95% peasant farmers being supported and monitored to make sure the funds and support provided are meeting the target, poverty will be reduced to the minimal level. Through government and farmers cooperatives, information are disseminated to these farmers.

More so, the organization in charge of this fund must liaise with local government of each state to register farmers that are going to appropriately use support that they receive when these funds are disbursed, making sure the funds are used for what it is meant for.

If farmers are actually ignorant, then they can get help – that will be a serious issue speaking from their perspective. I will suggest organizations and NGO’s rendering help to farmers should always make their presence known in each local government, encouraging them to get list of camps (villages where farmers have their farms) so that they can have their sign post and also once in a while organize outreach and seminars for farmers in those enlisted camps.

Thus, if this can be done the goal to reduce poverty and to wipe out hunger is not out of reach. Organizations must do more and farmers should always ask questions, they must be proactive in their work and also be passionate about making the goal to feed Africa achievable because wiping out hunger starts from them.

Written by Oladapo Emmanuel

Oladapo Emmanuel is an information Technology Professional, a web 2.0 and social media expert, a blogger, writer, multi-talented individual and a social activist keen to social development for a better society. He is currently a student of Adekunle Ajasin University, Ondo state.

PHOTO CONTEST: IYFF 2014-Visualizing the potential and contributions of family farmers worldwide

The International Year of Family Farming (IYFF) highlights the decisive role of family farming in the sustainable production of 80% of the world’s food and in the conservation of ecosystems and biodiversity.

The IYFF-2014 photo competition collects visual expressions to build stronger recognition and support for family farming, and encourage broad participation in the IYFF.

SEND US YOUR BEST PHOTOS
The IYFF-2014 photo competition is calling for photos that represent the motto: Family Farming: Feeding the world, caring for the earth.

Entries must visualize the strength, potential and challenges of sustainable, multifunctional family
farmers worldwide, in all their diversity and contexts.

A jury consisting of Angèle Etoundi, Bernward Geier, S. Jayaraj, Tomás Munita, Deo Sumaj and Jun Virola
will choose the winning photos. The deadline for entries is 1 May 2014, but we appreciate receiving photos earlier.

The jury will choose a total of seven winning photographs: one first price and six second prizes, one for each continent. Five “popular choice” photos
will be selected by the public through an online voting system. The winning photos will be announced at the end of October 2014 during a special IYFF event.

There are cash prizes for the winners: 400 euros for the first place photo; 200 euros for each second place photo; and 100 euros for each ‘popular
choice’.

The winning photos will be announced in October 2014. Your entry can be submitted via the website below, or by
sending your photo to
photocompetition@ruralforum.net

For more detail visit the organizer’s site