Africa’s new Frontier in Agriculture and Innovation

11 Gen

I once exported some avocados to France and they found themselves in Brazzaville. I was shocked when I asked, they had come from France where I had exported” This is a story that is not unique to Dr. Theo de Jager a medium scale farmer and President of PanAfrican Farmers Association (PAFO) based in South Africa it is a narrative that is identified by many farmers who export produce in Africa. Dr. Theo was speaking at the Global Forum of Agriculture and Innovation (GFIA) the first ever held on the African soil in Durban, South Africa.

winnie 2Many farmers find themselves in the same predicament, wanting to supply their produce to fellow African nations but due to lack of infrastructure and what Dr. Theo calls Obstacles they are not able to do so due to “Obstacles that need to get out of the way”.

Africa has the potential was the key message at the GFIA Africa. Africa is the new frontier of agriculture it has the potential to feed itself and the world if it were to unblock regional trade barriers this is according to a World Bank report of 2012. Unfortunately the barriers Africa facing the continent are many almost insurmountable from war to famine, floods to corruption the list is endless.

Michael Hailu the Executive Director of Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA) noted Innovations are big in Africa adding “Africa has the potential for everyone to be successful

According to the data gathered by Maps of the world showing the arable countries in Africa notes that Mauritius has maximum and Djibouti has the minimum percentage of arable land in Africa. Interesting to note that most of the African countries have below 20% of arable land.

Africa has the potential to feed the world yet the conflicts bedeviling it makes it a near tragedy to say the least on how we should conduct ourselves. Interesting enough was one of the keynote speakers Former Prime Minister of Somalia Abdullahi Farmajo. He noted a country like Somalia which he once led has the potential but Somalia has been without a functioning government for over two decades “Warring has affected farming farmers. Conflict in Somalia has been complicated due to clanism”.

winnie1Rwanda for example is a country that has emerged from conflict and has leaped in strides to reclaim and rebuild itself. The Minister of Agriculture in Rwanda Tony Nsanganira pointed out that the country’s flagship project  and crop intensification began in 2007. If all countries in Africa who have arable land would intensify in such projects I would bet you with my small belongings including my valuable pen and notebook we would never receive food aid from any developed country instead we would give them aid. But this is a mirage that will happen maybe in 30th century.

Director General of South Africa’s Department of Agriculture Bongiwe Njobe pointed out “Soil to stomach approach Government needs to create infrastructure” Though the farmer may face challenges of funding “Capital is shy as a deer, you scare it it runs

Bongiwe adding that “Government needs to drive consumer education on food security to get people to talk on nutrition

Daniel Gad owner of multimillion Omega farms in Ethiopia noting that there’s a big gap in developing capacity of the youth “There’s need to promote agribusiness and there’s need to invest in government process” Gad added.

It’s time for farmers to invest but even as we put our hope on this great continent of Africa wise words from Dr. Theo need to be engraved in the minds of all prospecting investors “There’s no such land without people, you need to marry this people in order to succeed it is their culture and  identity

By Winnie Kamau
Data Journalist,
Media Relations Consultant.
@WinnieKamau254

 

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