Agriculture development to end Africaâ€™s labor and poverty challenge
For Africa to help its people create wealth and end youth unemployment, many individuals and institutions believe investing in and modernizing agriculture holds the key.
Starting with going into market-driven agriculture, precision farming is based on the demand of the various facets of market, according to Pierre Brunache, Chief Agri-Business Officer African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP).
â€œTHE ONLY THING THAT IS GOING TO HELP REDUCE POVERTY, I PREFER WEALTH CREATION, IS WHEN YOU START GOING INTO MARKET-DRIVEN AGRICULTURE, PRECISION FARMING,â€ BRUNACHE SAID.
He said information generation across the value chain of agriculture and agri-business will let farmers know the demands in the various segments of the markets.
â€œNOW WHEN THE INFORMATION STARTS FLOWING THROUGH THE VALUE CHAIN, THATâ€™S WHERE YOU ARE GOING TO BE ABLE TO HAVE PROPER BUSINESS THAT WILL TAKE PEOPLE OUT OF POVERTY AND HELP THEM TO CREATE WEALTH AND AT THE SAME TIME GUARANTEE PRODUCTIVITY,â€ THE AGRI-BUSINESS EXPERT ADDED.
The capacity of agriculture to be the game changer in Africa has never been in doubt owing to its fertile lands with input companies beginning to turn attention to the region, to help African farmers increase their yields as well as create jobs in the sector through the adoption of modern agronomic practices.
â€œTHE OTHER ASPECT IS NOT TO THINK ABOUT AGRIC AS FOOD ONLY. YOU HAVE COSMETICS, WHICH IS AGRIC. SHEA BUTTER, NIM OIL WHICH IS ALL AGRIC, AND YOU ALSO HAVE PHARMACEUTICAL COMMODITIES THAT COME FROM AGRIC,â€ HE SAID.
â€œTO BE ABLE TO CREATE THE TYPE OF COMMODITY THAT THE MARKET HAS ASKED FOR, YOU WILL KNOW HOW MANY JOBS WILL BE CREATED OR HOW MANY PEOPLE YOU ARE GOING TO EMPLOY,â€ HE SAID.
He projected that, with these done, there are going to be jobs created even through the distribution of input alone at the ports to disembark the fertilizer; at the plants to blend it; going down to the farmer with the mechanized equipment; to do soil testing; to help with post-harvest loss among other activities.
Brunache believes there is also great potential in the post-harvest side supply chain management to transport the goods to the warehouse, to conduct traceability test, to transport processed goods to the warehouse or to a hotel or to restaurants, to hospitals or to schools or to supermarkets, urging African governments to invest in building the right kind of capacity needed in the sector.
Helping farmers increase their yield and creating the right markets for them after production is also key.
Domini Donkoh, Business Development Manager OmniFert, a leading fertilizer blending and distribution firm in Ghana, noted that in maize production for instance fertilizer helps the crop to become robust.
â€œBY FERTILIZERS, I MEAN JUST APPLYING FERTILIZERS WITHOUT KNOWING THE SOIL REQUIREMENTS. THE SOIL REQUIRES DIFFERENT ELEMENTS OF FERTILIZERS SO OUR MAIN FOCUS IS TO ENSURE THAT FERTILIZERS ARE BLENDED TO SUIT THE CROPS SO THE FERTILIZERS BECOME CROP SPECIFIC AND SITE SPECIFIC,â€ HE EXPLAINED.
Where farmers previously harvested two 50 kg bags of maize per acre without fertilizer, Donkor noted that some had started doing eight maxi bags with the introduction of the fertilizers in their right types and volumes, more room existing for improvement.
â€œFOOD SECURITY IS OUR MAJOR PRIORITY. THE REASON IS THAT GHANAIAN OR AFRICAN FARMERS ARE PUTTING IN SO MUCH EFFORT BUT ARE GETTING VERY SMALL YIELDS, BECAUSE AFTER EVERY HARVEST THE SOIL LOSES SOME AMOUNT OF NUTRITION WHICH MUST BE REPLACED,â€ HE SAID.