How African farmers can tap into billion-dollar agro-business chain – Experts

A corn farm used to illustrate the story.
A corn farm used to illustrate the story. [Photo credit: The Guardian Nigeria]

For agribusiness to become a one-trillion dollar industry in Africa by 2030, a revolution has to take place in the sector in the continent.

This was the conclusion of a panel session at the African Economic Congress in Abuja on Tuesday.

The session had experts from different fields of the agricultural sector.

African Economic Congress is an event that assembled experts from government, private sector, academia and civil society to accelerate the adoption of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and boost the dynamism of Africa to attain its growth potential.

The three-day programme has been addressing industry-specific issues.

In order to achieve the revolution, the experts said Africa needs to treat agriculture as a business.

Research shows that the continent has an estimated 33 million smallholder farmers, many of whom lack access to fair markets and modern technologies amongst others.

These challenges lower their yield and eat into their profit margin. The agricultural value chain holds the key to accelerate growth, diversification and job creation for African countries.

Speaking at the panel session, the country director of Machine and Equipment Corporation Africa Limited (MECA), Ishaku Gashinbaki, said mechanisation has a major role to play across all the stages in the agricultural revolution.

“Unfortunately, in the sub-Sahara, mechanisation is as low as one per cent, while animal power is 10 per cent and human power 89 per cent.

He said a research was conducted by MECA on machinery in Nigeria. “We started with tractors and we realised that 131,000 were damaged while 55,000 were serviceably broken down.

Mr Gashinbaki said to service the broken down tractors will cost one trillion naira.

“It is an African thing. Usually, a tractor lasts for two to three seasons but lasts for four to five farming season in Nigeria,” he said.

Another panelist, Anthony Simpasa, said bringing cluster of farmers together in African countries will help improve the sector.

He said farmers also need the right innovation and infrastructure. “Most importantly we need to attract young people to make agriculture more business-driven,” he said.

On his part, another panellist, Emeka Nwachinemere, said farmers’ access to data and finance is the backbone to optimise agribusiness in Africa.

On availability of land, he said farmers will have to find a way to produce more from less.
“Since land cannot be increased, farmers can learn how to produce genetically modified products.”

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