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Agriculture, Africa’s Quiet Revolution
September 30, 2017
Agriculture will be Africa’s quiet revolution with a focus on SMEs and smallholder farmers creating the high productivity jobs and sustainable economic growth failing to materialise from mineral deposits and increased urbanisation. This is according to the Africa Agriculture Status Report (AASR) commissioned by Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), which was launched at the 2017 Africa Green Revolution Forum in Cote d’ Ivoire. The African agrarian revolution would be different from the European and the Asian green revolution as it will focus on smallholder farmers, the report revealed. According to the report, “Africa’s recent pattern of growth, based on ‘urbanisation without industrialization,’ has increased rather than reduced the need for an agricultural transformation,” especially given the fact that many urban jobs are in the services sector, which are essentially low-productivity jobs.
Currently, “The aggregate annual food import bill is about US$35 billion, and is estimated to rise to US$110 billion by 2025,” the report states. This would put a strain on Sub-Saharan African fledgling economies unless governments and other stakeholders put their concerted efforts in building an agro-based economy. Despite the efforts in urbanisation, where countries like Kenya have invested a lot in road expansion, as well as in the mining industry, the report strongly believes that the key to Africa’s growth lies within the agriculture sector. Majorly, the key contributors to the African agricultural growth are small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and smallholder farmers. The report says that Africa has about 51 million farms, of which 80% (or 41 million) are smaller than 2 ha (hectares) in size. These farms already bring forth 70% of Africa’s total food requirements, and their numbers are still increasing in most countries. The report emphasizes the importance of smallholder farmers by affirming that, “They provide around 80% of the food consumed in both Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.”