By Albert Makendenge
Africa is one of those places with ideal climate that every farmer dreams about. With all of its favorable tropical climates that permit long growing seasons, abundant uncultivated arable land, a young labor force and an expanding population that provides a readily available market for produce consumption. However, the questions that still remains unanswered for or rather the obstacle that still stands in the way of the highly and potentially vibrant industry is whether to keep it simply agriculture (subsistence agriculture) or to go the more commercial way of agribusiness.
Africa is yet to harness all of its resources and opportunities to ensure sustainable food security and food production. The average age of farmers is about 60 years (in a continent where 60 percent of the population is under 24 years of age. Farmers are also less educated, with younger and more educated Africans leaving the rural areas where the farms are for the so called greener pastures in the cities. Some of these youngsters are also discouraged by the difficulties of accessing funds or land, the reliance on manual technology in smallholder agriculture as well as low and volatile profits.
However, suggestions and recommendations from research show that governments and all stakeholders involved should change their outlook on agriculture from merely looking at it as a daily activity to sustain families to an income generating commercial enterprise. Focusing on the entire value chain of the process (land tenure, farming technology, markets, and pricing) would help transform food systems around the continent. Positioning farming as a business and entrepreneurial endeavor would also draw younger people into the practice and make them see it as less of a cool idea and more as a career option. This can easily be achieved by placing more emphasis on boosting productivity within the farms, bolstering the link between the farms and other economic segments, strengthening land tenure privileges and adopting technology and mobile phones largely as a mechanism for farming activities.
The future of the continent thus seems even brighter above and beyond simple agriculture. Beyond simple agriculture into the exciting and largely unchartered waters of agribusiness.