Agriculture and the path to a sustainable economy in Africa
For several years, there have been beautiful predictions about agriculture in Africa or about Africa rising to its agricultural potential. Africa is a huge continent by land mass with about 600 million hectares of uncultivated arable land, roughly 60 percent of the global total. Africa’s agricultural potential is laying waste with only a very few tapping into this potential which is a challenge but that is not even the sad part, one would expect that with a very high youth population that Africa would be an agricultural powerhouse but this is not the case.
As fortune may have it, this agricultural challenge came to the right ears in the name of KOSMOS , which is an energy-based organization. KOSMOS has taken it upon itself to make giant strides in the agricultural sector in Africa, starting with Ghana.
For a few years running, KIC has fully supported and funded youths from all over Africa who are interested in making a difference in the agricultural sector. Interestingly an opportunity arose for me to be part of a lucky few selected amongst many, ahead of the 2017 batch, to participate in the KOSMOS Innovation Center (KIC) challenge, which is a great opportunity.
The KIC agricultural challenge brings the brightest minds in business, agricultural and IT to form teams that would compete for funding by developing an excellent agricultural solution that would be well impactful to the industry.
This journey began when the 2017 KIC team embarked on an 8-day research trip to different regions in Ghana from the south to the east and even far to the north, on this trip we went through countless industries, farms and institutions in the likes of Cocoa Abropopa, Agric-care, blue skies, Kuma-Kuma and several others.
Through our research trip, we were able to witness first-hand the challenges facing the agricultural sector, the key players in the industry. We came up with ideas to tackle some of these problems and in the midst of all these activities, it was fun sharing thoughts, opinions and meeting new people on a “Super luxury ride” including an awesome trip to the infantry battalion at Kumasi where we learnt how to use military discipline in our daily lives and businesses. It was quite a humbling experience, which made me dream of agriculture in Africa being so much fun, that most youth would want to be partake.
The most bewildering part of the trip for me was the realization that lack of tech did little to hinder the growth of agriculture rather it has been finance and expertise. This is an industry where the ratio of extension officers to farmers is about 1:3000 where the acceptable rate is about 1:800. With big industries not able to satisfy the local demand there is large market void in terms of labor and produce.
So my plight is that, now is a good time for agriculture to be taken seriously more than ever, both by the government and capable private bodies just as KOSMOS is doing knowing the potential it holds to transform the African economy.
Therefore, agriculture needs serious attention, as it is quite a lucrative industry waiting for people to start investing heavily. Agriculture is also an alternative source of revenue that should take preeminence rather than investing in luxury goods as this will be a case of killing two birds with one stone. Meeting agricultural need becomes a huge monetary reward, achieving this is possible on an individual level or through collaboration.
If we need inspiration, we can look up to nations like Brazil, China and the likes. These countries transformed their economy literally with agriculture and if that’s not enough motivation we should consider the future where by the year 2050 Africa’s population would be about 2.3 billion people, meaning more food and more demand for agricultural produce of which the only way to secure that future is by acting now.