Is the Agricultural Sector in Africa Modernized Enough?

By Soko Directory Team / Published June 1, 2018 | 6:42 am





Close to 70 percent of the African population is involved in agriculture.

Despite this, Africa has not done well in modernizing its agriculture sector. Many attempts were made to bring the green revolution to Africa, some of which were successful in raising productivity.

But they were typically based on top-down, heavily subsidized and state-led approaches that proved costly and financially unsustainable, and had to be pared back as part of the structural adjustment programs.

Although Africa’s agricultural growth rate improved to about 7 percent per annum in 2005, this was driven more by a commodity price boom and expansion of the cropped area rather than by improvements in the underlying fundamentals.

Africa’s cereal yields started to grow after 2000, but still remain low compared to other countries, and the gaps are widening. Moreover, the gap in land and labor productivity between Africa and Asia also widened rather than closed over 2000–2014.

Within Africa, labor and land productivity improved the least in Southern Africa and improved the most in Eastern and Western Africa. Far from exploiting its potential of becoming a major breadbasket region, Africa continues to become more dependent on food imports. The aggregate annual food import bill is currently about US$35 billion and is estimated to rise to US$110 billion by 2025.

So why has Africa not done better in modernizing its agriculture sector and raising the productivity of its agricultural workers?

A green revolution was always going to be a bigger challenge in Africa than in Asia given the continent’s diverse, rain-fed farming systems, limited irrigation, and sparse rural infrastructure. Africa needed a “rainbow” revolution to address its diverse array of crops, farming systems, and growing environments.

In contrast, Asia was able to enjoy a green revolution based on increasing the yields of just two crops— rice and wheat, grown on vast areas of irrigated land where the same technologies were widely applicable.

Many things are now coming together in ways that give Africa the need, the opportunity, the means, and the ambition to transform its agriculture sector. The question now is not whether Africa needs an agricultural transformation, but rather what kind of transformation it needs.




About Soko Directory Team

Soko Directory is a Financial and Markets digital portal that tracks brands, listed firms on the NSE, SMEs and trend setters in the markets eco-system.Find us on Facebook: facebook.com/SokoDirectory and on Twitter: twitter.com/SokoDirectory

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