The global population is burgeoning (expected to reach over 9 billion by 2050) and so is the demand for food and nutrition. In Africa, agriculture is 313 billion dollars a year business and this is projected to triple by the year 2030 to 1 trillion dollars. Africa imports most of its foodstuff yet it is home to 65 percent of the world’s uncultivated arable land. Investing in agricultural value chains will go a long way to meeting some of Africa’s growing demand for food and nutrition.
Erratic weather patterns as a result of global warming have made the situation worse. Coupled with the threat posed by pests such as the fall army warm, investing in sustainable agriculture can never be overemphasized. Around 70 percent of the worlds poor reside in rural areas and depend on agriculture for employment, income, and food. This vindicates the need to invest in agriculture and to ensure that agricultural systems are sustainable.
Agriculture is a source of employment: In sub-Saharan Africa alone, agriculture provides employment to 70 percent of the continent’s poorest population and accounts for 30 percent of the continent’s wealth. More than half of the world’s population growth will be in Africa by 2050. Youth unemployment is currently a major problem on the continent and agriculture is one of the sectors that can provide a solution through investments in value addition and making agriculture attractive to the youth.
Economic diversification: For a very long time, Africa has been exporting raw materials and importing finished products. Focus needs to shift towards value addition. Africa needs to stop exporting primary goods and invest in value addition. Africa produces75 percent of the world’s cocoa yet the continent gets less than 5 percent of the $100billion revenue from the chocolate industry. Value addition is the key to transforming Africa’s agricultural sector and turning agriculture into business for most farmers.
Poverty reduction: Poverty is still a major drawback to development efforts. The United Nation’s sustainable development goal number one is; No poverty. It aims to end poverty in all forms everywhere. Agriculture is said to be eleven times more effective in alleviating poverty than any other sector. Meeting sustainable development goal number one implies investing in agriculture and agricultural value chains. Poverty hampers the achievement of most of the other development goals
To avoid famine: Global warming is changing weather patterns. Erratic weather is leading to poor harvest and smallholders are the most affected. Africa contributes the least towards global warming but is bound to be the most affected continent. Investing in climate-smart agriculture will reduce the impact of global warming on the continent. Conventional methods will compound the situation making Africa’s smallholders more vulnerable to the effects of a warming planet. Prognoses by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) indicate that grain production alone will need to double by 2050 if everyone is to have enough to eat in the future. That calls for innovative models and new, intelligent technologies to increase productivity and efficiency.
Investment pays off: Investment in Agriculture almost always guarantees a good return in investment. Experts say that agriculture is a low-risk investment that increases in value over the long-run and keeps pace with inflation. Between 1992 and 1998, the Guinea government provided support to the growing of local Guinean potatoes and production increased 20 fold from less than 300 tonnes in 1992 to close to 6,000 tonnes in 2003.
Agriculture is the backbone of Africa’s economy. Investment in Africa’s agriculture and agricultural value chains is critical to the continent’s long term socio-economic development and will also go a long way in guaranteeing global food security and nutrition.