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


Agriculture: The magic wand that guarantees millions of job opportunities and eradicates poverty


The significance of agriculture resource in bringing about economic growth and sustainable development of a nation cannot be underestimated. Hence the amount of the economic growth largely depends on importance the government attached to it in funding, formulation and holistically implementing of the policy.

About 55.9 million representing 33.1% of Nigeria population are living below acceptable poverty line and about 23.9% unemployment rate (NBS 2014). And the good news is that it has been estimated a 1% increase in crop yields results in a 0.5-0.8% reduction in poverty. (KPMG 2013). It has also been established that agric contribute 30% to Nigeria’s GDP and it’s the largest employer of labour in the country 65% (CBN). With the current drop in general price of oil in international market and massive unemployment in Nigeria, agriculture is the big deal and it’s the solution to our poverty reduction and unemployment problem. Opportunities to take advantage of rapidly growing agribusiness landscape abound and there is need for the new government to diversify and maximize the opportunity.

A strong and efficient agricultural sector would enable a country to feed its growing population, generate employment, earn foreign exchange and provide raw materials for industries. The agricultural sector has a multiplier effect on any nation’s socio-economic and industrial fabric because of the multifunctional nature of agriculture (Ogen 2007). Agriculture’s contribution to the Gross Domestic product (GDP) has remained stable at between 30 and 42 percent, and employs 65 per cent, of the labour force in Nigeria (Emeka 2007).

The challenges and obstacles which have held Nigerian agriculture sector back are considerable: yields are one of the lowest in the world and have been growing relatively slowly. As a result, imports for staples such as wheat, and rice have been rising steadily. The reasons are many and complex: lack of land rights, limited credit availability, low levels of investment and input usage, whether in quality seed, fertilizers, crop protection products, irrigation or machinery; poorly developed infrastructure and supply chains; and low levels of inter-regional trade, hampered by Government policy and monopolistic barriers. Judiciously implementing the reviewed President Umaru Musa Yaradua’s agricultural policy curled from Segun Adeniyi’s ‘Power, Politics and Death’ outlined below will do the country lots of good in reducing poverty, sustain food security and generate massive employment.

1. N500bn commercial agriculture credit scheme with single digit interest rate should be designed to solve one of the major problems of commercial farming in Nigeria which is lack of credit facilities. CBN should be allowed to disburse this fund with the help of bank of agriculture to disburse to large scale and small scale farmers and remove the bottleneck that can deny the smallholder farmers access to the fund and introduction of CCT conditional cash transfer.

2. Construction of silos and ware house complexes which is designed to serve multiple purposes including storage, cleaning and washing sorting packaging standardization and market outlet and transport corridor to the market should be constructed in grain centres in the country combined with one on ground and increase the storage capacity of the present one.

3. One stop agro-input centres should be designed to serve as one stop for shop where farmers could purchase high grade agricultural inputs such as seedlings, fertilizers, animal feeds, agro chemical and tractors each centres was to have the capacity to store up to 2000 metric tonnes of inputs and should be collaborating with research institute like IITA, ILRI, CRIN, NIHORT etc for smooth operation and sharing of resources.

4. Integrated livestock centers – this estate is to provide integrated infrastructure for the development of livestock industry and its sub sector with its relevant value chain. The livestock estate will include grazing areas, breeding centre, covered and opened pen for large and small ruminant with micro-livestock, dairy processing of cow and goat milk, modern abattoirs, leather treatment centres, meat processing plant, cold store with blast freezer, modern meat supermarket. This should be connected with livestock research institute for sharing of resources and smooth running.

5. Integrated fish estate – these fish estates are designed to provide integrated infrastructure for the development of the fishery sub-sector and its relevant value chain. The fishery estates will includes ponds, hatcheries, processing plants for smoking and preservation, training centres, feed mills, laboratories for research, cold stores and marketing centres, this estates will be built across the state selected and known for fish farming.

6. Outgrowers development and extension service; these centres were to intensify the growth of large scale agric business as well as create a new generation of farmers in Nigeria they were to be built along the agro input centres which will include farmers market, processing and storage facilities water for irrigation housing with training up to 2000 extension workers.

7. Export handling, preservation and conditioning centers – These centres will be designed to reduce post harvest losses and ensure the agricultural products from Nigeria can compete well in the international market. Facilities in these centres will include washing, drying and storage chambers, sorting, grading and packaging facilities and temperature and cold store and blast freezing humidity control facilities.

The agribusiness sector’s value chain spans input companies, farmers, traders, food companies and retailers, all of whom must ultimately satisfy the varying demands of the consumer in a sustainable manner. The sector encompasses huge diversity and variety at each stage, from input companies to generic manufacturers, subsistence farmers to high tech agro holdings, biotech, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to multinational corporations. Millions of direct and indirect job guaranteed and Opportunities to take advantage of this rapidly growing agribusiness landscape abound.

The Agricultural sector contributes significantly to Nigeria’s GDP. The employment base of the Nigeria economy ought to be dependent on this sector. It is well over due for the Nigerian economy to diversify. The negative perception and orientation of the average Nigerian about the agriculture sector should be disabused so that these sectors can contribute optimally to GDP and solve the unemployment problem in the country.

The new Government should increase her budgetary allocation to this sector in a consistent manner because of its importance to the national economy, hoping that with proper monitoring of fund, it would contribute more significantly to the economy of the country. An effective utilization of such funds is also advocated and all areas of wastage blocked. The smallholder farmers who live in the rural areas and who are the major providers of food for the nation should be adequately catered for by making the rural areas more conducive and habitable, the provision of adequate infrastructural facilities such as good roads, pipe borne water and electricity. The provision of these facilities will no doubt impact positively on the small holder farmers’ productivity.

Adesola Femi a trained Animal scientist from Federal University of Technology Akure

First published here

Nigeria: Applicants Wanted for Agriculture Youth Empowerment Scheme (Agric YES), Lagos


The Lagos State Government in continuation of the 10 Point Agenda to create wealth, ensure food security and alleviate poverty through entrepreneurial training in modern agriculture is seeking applications from suitably qualified candidates for placement in the third phase of the six months intensive training course, the Agriculture Youth Empowerment Scheme (Agric Yes).

The Agric-Yes programme is a 3 phased programme which includes a six month intensive hands-on practical based training in aquaculture, poultry, vegetable farming and bee keeping.

Other highlights of the programme are a six month exposure to agriculture best practices in aquaculture, poultry, vegetable farming and bee keeping in a commercial farm as well as a permanent settlement in Farm estates in various locations in the State.

Requirements for admission into the six months programme includes;

  • a passion for agriculture,
  • possession of a recognized degree and diplomas from universities and polytechnics,
  • minimum of senior secondary school certificates and satisfactory physical and health conditions.

Read more here

‘E-agriculture will create 500,000 jobs for youths’- Kalu Samuel

A Kenyan farmer sends a text message to enquire about the latest maize prices from her maize field in Thigio, near Nairobi. Photograph: Antony Njuguna

A Kenyan farmer sends a text message to enquire about the latest maize prices from her maize field in Thigio, near Nairobi. Photograph: Antony Njuguna

Following the rate at which some sectors of economy are being neglected by Nigerians, agricultural experts who are versed in on-line business have alerted the Nigerian youths to the economic benefit and employment opportunities of e-agriculture which has been under tapped in the country.

The experts, at a forum on “e-agriculture and its role in reducing unemployment and hunger” in Lagos recently said the youth unemployment rate can be reduced by 14.2 per cent by e-agriculture if properly utilised.

A participant, Ndifreke said, “Youth unemployment is solvable! Youth unemployment can be a thing of little concern! Youth unemployment can be overturned and overcome! As much as the youths are battered by the devastating demographics plaguing our country, the bulk of the problem lies in the ability of our government and leadership to provide an enabling environment where creativity and innovation are birthed, nurtured, grown and expanded with a sincere motive and drive towards economic development and people development.

On the other hand, organisations like RISE and other like organisations should without fainting keep the grassroot and community enlightenment, empowerment quest going which may be little, considering the youth population of the country but go a long way to effecting change in people’s lives. To the youths, do not give up, do not stop pressing forward, do not stop innovating, do not give up searching for possible way out….”

Speaking to our reporter on Wednesday on the resourcefulness of e-agriculture, the YPARD Local Representative in Lagos, Kalu Samuel said millions of rural farmers have access to phones or at least have a phone that can make and receive calls and unemployed youths should utilise the Information and Communication Technology channels like Bulk SMS, to create a platform for communication with these rural farmers and create time to physically see and encourage their works.

Article published in the National Mirror Newspaper
He said, “I think most Nigerian youths haven’t seen the opportunity of e-agriculture as a source of employment creation. All youths do not need to go to the farm, as such some will use this avenue as an opportunity to create and deliver information to the farmer using ICT tools.”

“You probably would have heard of e-mail, e-commerce, e-business, e-governance, and if you love shopping: e-bay! But many who have heard of e-Agriculture probably don’t know what it means and how it affects them either as individuals or as Agric professionals,” Samuel reiterated.

He said the e-agriculture if harnessed properly has the capacity of creating close to 500,000 jobs, if truly there are 50 million real farmers that will mean one graduate providing ICT services to 100 farmers.

Samuel, who noted that no rigorous training is required to start the business explained that the knowledge of ICT tools like computer is required and that other resources can be specialised trainings on SMS solutions, social media marketing and other ICT for agriculture solutions.

He said one can start an eagriculture venture with less than N50, 000 as the startup cost depending on how many people one is targeting with the service.

Article first published in the National Mirror Newspaper

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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