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


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

WECA: Creating Wealth through Agribusiness in Ondo State, Nigeria

Cross-section of Agropreneurs at the WECA Programme

Cross-section of Agropreneurs at the WECA Programme

The involvement of youths in Agriculture and Food security programmes cannot be over emphasized. Youths being the most important target group for human resources development constitute the foundation of sustainable development. For sustainable food production and viable agricultural development, youths need to occupy a very central stage.

In my capacity as a youth, i made a visit to the Ondo State Wealth Creation (WECA) programme after hearing about the program from my interactions with some very passionate young agriculturists in Akure, Ondo state Nigeria. I was astonished about how such program exists for teeming youths with interests in Agricultural entrepreneurship and majority of them not knowing about the existence of such program made available for them. This inspired me to write this blogpost on the “WECA” programme as such information could be valuable to young agropreneurs or should i say now “nagropreneurs” who complain of general access challenges such as capital, farm inputs, access to machineries, improved seeds availability, requisite training and experiences e.t.c such information could come in handy for them.


The Ondo State Wealth Creation Agency was established in 2009, the program understands the importance of agriculture in improving and increasing household food security and hence provides raw materials that can drive the industrialization and employment opportunities for youths in Ondo state, Nigeria.

The WECA program focuses on creating wealth by introducing young men and women to modern agricultural best practices and agribusiness while exposing them to the entire value chain of agriculture which includes supply of inputs, production, preservation, processing, services, marketing and distribution and agric. financing, etc. The WECA programs objective involves the implementation of programs that act as catalysts to the systematic evolution of a new crop of professional farmers and agricultural entrepreneurs and also designs and develops efficient integrated value chain mechanism that focuses on production, processing, preservation, marketing and distribution and non-agricultural products thereby developing viable indigenous technology as a means to wealth creation.

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Ezekwesili lauds development in agriculture

 Former Vice-President of the World Bank,  Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili,  on Friday 11th October 2013 lauded the Federal Government’s emphasis on agricultural development in the country.

Ezekwesili in Lagos said that the focus on agricultural development was doing a lot to empower farmers across the country.

She added that the current emphasis had redirected the focus of more than 60 per cent of the population into agriculture and related businesses.

“I think the emphasis that government is giving to agriculture and agribusiness is very good. I applaud them (officials) for the emphasis on agriculture, agribusiness and enhancing productivity.

“Because, frankly, already we have more than 60 per cent of our citizens in agriculture.

“So, if you want to tackle poverty, go to the sector where the people who are mostly poor are operating, and it’s in agriculture.

“So, you go to that informal sector of agriculture, you provide them with the kind of tools and the kinds of facilities, the extension services, the links to the market, the seeds and inputs, the access to credit.

“The better business environment, all of these add together to improve their productivity, and   therefore, will improve their income.

“Because when you enhance the income of the farmers, what it means is that they have more money that they can spend even in offering education to their children.

“So that circle of activities is so important for taking the entire society out of poverty.

“You don’t lift people out of poverty; you give people what they need in order to lift themselves out of poverty.’’

She also urged the government at all levels to make more efforts to boost agricultural development in the country in order to reduce the rate of poverty.

Source here

Roots and tubers provide great opportunities for long-term poverty alleviation and food security, says Ghanaian President

 ISTRC-AB President, Dr Nzola Mahungu addressing participants at the symposium on roots and tubers in Ghana

ISTRC-AB President, Dr Nzola Mahungu addressing participants at the symposium on roots and tubers in Ghana

Improving the competitiveness of root and tubers will help in alleviating poverty in Africa, considering that 80 percent of people in the rural areas depend on agriculture as a source of livelihood, according to Ghanaian President, John Dramani Mahama today.

“Root and tuber crops (sweet potato, cassava, and yams) provide great opportunities for long-term poverty alleviation and food security much more than any other staple foods produced in the African, Caribbean and Pacific regions,” Mahama who was represented by Mohammed Alfa, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology Innovation, said at the 12th symposium organized by the International Society for Tropical Root Crops-Africa Branch (ISTRC-AB) in Accra, Ghana.

The symposium in Accra is coming at a time when global attention on agriculture is trending up. It provided scientists and partners in development the opportunity to reexamine the competitiveness of root and tuber crops with a view to harnessing their potential and accelerating Africa’s economic growth.

Dr Nzola Mahungu, ISTRC-AB President, who is also the Country Representative for the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in DR Congo said, “Root and tuber crops play an important role in ensuring food security in Africa, and we must tap the opportunities of these crops.”

Widely consumed across Africa, root and tuber crops play a key role in the continent, providing incomes for farmers, generating wealth, and cushioning the effect of cereals’ shortfall.

For instance, cassava is a source of livelihood for over 300 million people in Africa, and with climate change the root crop is becoming increasingly important, thanks to its ability to withstand drought and growth on soils with marginal fertility.“But the potential of these crops is yet to be fully exploited,” Dr Mahungu said.

The conference which begins on Monday, 30 September 2013, provides a window of opportunity for partners to compare notes and develop strategies that will unleash the potential of the root and tuber crops.

Specific areas of interest include:

• African root crops trade and market scenarios

• Policies favorable to competitiveness of root crops in Africa

• African scenario on production and utilization of root and tuber crops

• Business and investment scenarios on competitiveness of root crops in Africa—benchmarking Latin American, Asian and European markets (Learning from Latin American, Asian & European industries)

• Mobilizing investors for sustainable root and tuber crops research and development.

IITA Director General, Dr Nteranya Sanginga, who was represented by the Deputy Director General (Partnerships and Capacity Development), Dr Kenton Dashiell commended the ISTRC-AB team for organizing the meeting, adding that it was timely especially in light of the growing threats to food security and rising unemployment in the continent.

Dr Sanginga noted that if properly harnessed, the root and tuber crops would help in absorbing the burgeoning number of unemployed youths, and put this pool of human resource to productive use.

He also called on scientists to ensure that their research outputs were creating the desired change at the farm level by addressing the constraints of development.

The week-long event attracted over 200 hundred local and international scientists, donors, farmers, and other development partners.

The 12th ISTRC Symposium is organized with support from the government of Ghana, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), IITA, CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Banana, HarvestPlus, African Development Bank-funded Support for Agricultural Research and Development of Strategic Crops (SARD SC) project, IITA-Yams Improvement for Incomes and Food Security in West Africa (YIIFSWA), Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), National Root Crops Research Institute, Umudike; the Federal Government of Nigeria, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO),  International Potato Center (CIP)  and several other organizations.


Youth unemployment from a think tank perspective

Getting Youth to Think Solutions for themselves

The FARA Social Reporters Blog

The issue of unemployment among young people continues to be at the top of the agenda in government, corporation and organisation discussions at all levels. Although these discussions become more and more prevalent, there seems to be little improvement in the situation. In fact, the International Labour Organization (ILO) report on global employment trends for youth 2013 tagged today’s youth as “a generation at risk”.

Today, the question is how can we increase youth employment (formal, informal, and self employment) in growing sectors such as agri-business, green growth, information and communications technology (ICT), and financial services?

According to the MasterCard Foundation, harnessing the passion and creativity of young people will help us to become more effective in the field of youth learning and engagement. This is why in January 2012 they created a Youth Think Tank and tasked it with advising the sector, and ultimately, shaping the way youth…

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