By Bernard Wainaina
Africa’s farmers must see themselves as entrepreneurs, just like their
counterparts in the other sectors of service and manufacturing industry.
Yet,just like their other counterparts, they face even greater obstacles in getting their goods to market.
Unlike manufacturing industry which has well developed supply chains of getting their products to the market,farmers till their land,plant seeds or tend their livestock,and after production,they have to deliver their produce to the market personally!
This is particularly true of our smallholder farmers, most of them women.
The typical farmer cultivates a plot the size of a football field or two.
She farms without the benefit of
high-quality seeds, fertiliser, irrigation or access to credit.
She often tills her land with little or no machinery because her earnings are too low to make any investments.
Climate change means her crops are increasingly likely to fail.
If she produces maize, her yields are set to reduce by a quarter due to pests,diseases and post harvest losses.
Instead of helping our farmers overcome such obstacles, we have put more in their way, including
excessive taxation, insufficient investment and
The challenges facing African agriculture are great, but they can be overcome.
A new set of opportunities has made the possibility of achieving an African Green Revolution greater
than ever before.
Soaring demand for food, especially in Africa’s rapidly growing cities, has attracted high levels of private investment to agriculture.
Private sector players that were previously absent have now joined
initiatives like Grow Africa, where over 100 local, regional and international companies work in
partnership with governments to achieve growth targets.
Over the past two years, these companies have committed more than $7.2 billion in farming investments.
We are already witnessing an agricultural renaissance in many parts of Africa, from Ghana to
And agriculture has the potential to reduce poverty twice as fast as any other sector.
When countries invest in agriculture, they generate rural growth.
This helps create jobs.
It reduces poverty and hunger.
Rwanda which is my favourite case study, for example, has one of Africa’s fastest growing economies, growing at 8 per cent in 2012,not linked to any oil, gas, or mining, but boosted by significant increases in its agricultural productivity.
This agricultural growth reaches more people than oil, gas, and mining.
But today’s farming gains remain fragile.
African governments must recommit to their Maputo pledge of investing 10 per cent of their budgets in
agriculture and rural development.
They must give farmers roads,energy supplies,storage facilities and supportive policies that rural
areas need to thrive.
We need alliances in which the private sector,farmers’ organisations and civil society all work together for agricultural development.
The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, one such mechanism, supplies high-quality seeds to millions
of smallholder farmers.
Besides learning from the spread of mobile technology in Africa, we must tap it directly; mobile phones could revolutionise our agriculture.
Some African farmers already get valuable information, such as market prices, e-vouchers and credit through mobile services,not forgetting the famous MPESA in Kenya.
Many of these innovative practices are more advanced and available to African smallholders than to their
American or European counterparts.
This year has been designated the Year of African Agriculture.
Let us make it a turning point for Africa’s agricultural entrepreneurs.
Our farmers could double their productivity within five years.
Let’s give them a real chance — as we did to our mobile entrepreneurs — who are now minting billions of Kenya Shillings in profits,to catalyse a uniquely African Green Revolution that ushers in an era of shared prosperity.
“The African Story as told by Africans”.©African News Digest®