I am aware the importance of agriculture is well known as well as its benefits, so just to state but a few:
1. Agriculture is the world’s largest industry. It employs more than one billion people and generates over US$1.3 trillion dollars’ worth of food annually.
2. Source of Livelihood: 70% of the people in the world directly rely on agriculture as a means of living.
3. Source of Raw Material: The main source of raw materials to major industries such as cotton, jute fabric, sugar and tobacco, edible and non-edible oils is agriculture. Processing of fruits as well as vegetables and rice husking also get their raw material mainly from agriculture.
4. Revenue & Foreign Exchange: Agriculture is the main source of national income for most developing countries, and most times export trade depends largely on agricultural sector. This demonstrates that agriculture products continue to be an important source of earning a country foreign exchange.
5. Food Security: A stable agricultural sector ensures a nation of food security. Food security prevents malnourishment that has traditionally been believed to be one of the major problems faced by most developing countries.
6. I believe you also knew:
10% of World’s gross domestic product is generated from agriculture, and
As at 2009, over 1 billion people were employed in world agriculture, representing 1 in 3 of all workers
In sub-Saharan Africa over 60 percent of the entire workforce are involved in agriculture
7. OH, lest I forget: Thailand’s richest man Dhanin Chearavanont, whose net worth is rated US$ 14.4 billion, has his main background in farming and agro-product whilst Andrey Verevskiy is, the youngest self-made Agricultural billionaire born on July 25, 1974-Ukraine and had net worth $ 1 Billion as per March, 2013, Forbes.
So I can say for a fact “So long as man cannot live without food”, as long as Man lives; agriculture must live as well, making it imperative to think of Agric same as we think of our lives.
But beyond what you knew, did you also know:
1. Agriculture is up to four times more effective than other sectors in reducing poverty. Increasingly, the world is counting on agriculture to produce more nutritious food and improve the livelihoods of a booming population, especially the poor.
2. Africa boasts of 60% of the world’s uncultivated arable land.
3. The current value of food markets on the African continent is estimated at $313bn and by 2030; the World Bank estimates that Africa’s agriculture sector could constitute a $1 trillion opportunity.
4. Before 2000, Sub Saharan Africa was a net exporter of food, but now the region has a food import bill of over US$35 billion per year and imports exceed exports by 30% with volatile global food markets making Africa more vulnerable.
5. “More than 200 million young people between the ages of 15 and 24 are jobless in Africa, and the figure is even higher when you speak of underemployment”. And yet “Agriculture remains the sector with the largest potential to help create wealth and lift millions out of poverty on the African continent if it is pursued vigorously.” Studies show that investing in agriculture pays. It could help lift 85 million people out of extreme poverty by 2024, provide jobs, and boost the continent’s economy.
6. Only 3.5 million hectares of the 240 million hectares suitable for wetland rice cultivation in Africa have been exploited and some African countries have most of their suitable lands uncultivated`, like Nigeria as at 2012 had over 85 million hectares of uncultivated arable land and Ghana has 336,000ha total lands cultivated for oil palm out of 1 million hectors lands available, utilizing only 10% of the potential lands leaving 664,000ha uncultivated suitable lands; twice much as existing cultivation.
7. The World Bank estimates that meeting the World’s vegetable oil demand in 2020 would require 6.3 million hectares of oil palm plantation; but using soybean oil instead would require an additional 42 million hectares (an area about the size of California!), hence industry players of vegetable oil prefer the growth of oil palm to soybean, which mainly grows well on the African soil.
Just to list, but a few
NOW MY POINT:
Creation of a venture to cultivate, harvest, process, manufacture, consume and export excess of agricultural products would not only highlight Africa on the world’s vision of feeding growing populations, but could create an industry size that will generate new employment, create wealth and most importantly be a sustainable end to our economies. So when the Gold, Diamonds, Bauxites , Crude oil and the etc. non-renewable resources get depleted after their massive extraction, our lands will be our next Gold, Diamond, Bauxite; there would have been an industry created already which takes its raw material source from these very available lands freely given to us by GOD.
Why have “I” left my lands uncultivated for menial jobs in cities and the diaspora?
Why have “I” left farming and agriculture to the unprivileged and the non-formally educated?
Why have “I” left agriculture to my grandmothers, fathers and mothers whose strength, knowledge and ability can only aid them to do nothing more than subsistence farming?
Why have “I” left my suitable lands uncultivated, yet given easily for the extraction of minerals which leave my lands bare and unsuitable for future cultivation?
Why have “I” left Africa’s potential agricultural capacity untapped but yet cannot do without man’s basic need – food, hence import of agricultural produce have become the order of the day for my African Nations?
– Nigeria spends US$ 11 billion on importing wheat, rice, sugar and fish and according to U.S. Department of State FY2001 Country Commercial Guide, Nigeria’s total food and agricultural imports is valued at approximately US$1.6 billion per year.
– Ghana imports over 300,000mt of CPO (Crude Palm Oil) annually from Asia with Government spending about US$ 100 million on this importation to make up her deficit.
– And guess what; all these Nations have one thing in common: “enough young and vibrant youth” who could fill up the Agric-space and get the lands massively tilled. I bet you didn’t know, yes:
– As at 2013; 772,000 young Ivorian’s, aged 15 to 34 were unemployed,
– Nigeria as at 2013: had 13.6% of her youth aged (15-24 years) unemployed,
– And Ghana my land is one of the numerous African nations’ trying hard to secure 16.6% of her youth aged (15-24 years) employment.
So why, why has the zeal of “I” to venture into agriculture become nothing to boast off? Agriculture has practically become unattractive and tagged for the uneducated, small town dwellers and the aged.
But thanks & kudos to those who beyond the odds have started the race of change, recreating the cover pages of Africa’s agriculture:
– Mahmud Johnson, Liberia, 22 yrs. – J Palm Ltd.
– Alex Mwaura Muriu, Kenya, 27 yrs. –Farm Capital.
– David Asare Asiamah, Ghana, 27 yrs. – Agro mindset Organisation.
TO MY ELDERLY: (Political Leaders, Professionals, Academicians, Chiefs, and Elders)
“In 2003, African leaders pledged to invest 10% of their national budgets in agriculture – eight of them did, while the rest, despite efforts to scale up their budgetary commitments have yet to keep their promises.”
Well; “I”still continue to believe in you as “I”know you care and even though you might not have all the strength and capacity to wipe this canker, you do have something “I” know for sure: Knowledge, Wisdom, Authority, Resources, Directions, and notably you are not going to deprive “Me”of it.
So what I see now is a challenge, but yet an enabling environment with most of the change required factors available in abundance, but for the “Will and Exuberance”. Yet“I” am not afraid because I have seen “some” started and thriving ; changing the cover page and ready to re-write the chapters of the African Agricultural story. “I” now have my scribble too, filled with so much ink of (Wisdom, Knowledge, Formal Education, Technology, Skill and Strength) to join in the re-writing of the remaining chapters of African Agriculture; “Until the lion learns to speak, the narrative will always glorify the hunter”
MY BELIEVE: With knowledge that:
1. Demand for agricultural commodities around the globe is rising rapidly as the world’s population grows,
2. Africa’s current food market, currently stands at US$ 313 billion, and is expected to grow to US$ 1 trillion in 2030, and that increasing food production and agro-processing can provide millions of jobs for the African youth (Dr Abu Sakara, 2014),
3. The world’s burgeoning population needs to be fed and Africa, our continent, is well positioned to do so. We have enough resources to feed not just ourselves but other regions too; we must seize this opportunity now. (Kofi Annan, 2014).
The stage is set and as said: The big difference this time round is that, it is Africans lending their voice to change the continent. And this time, it’s not about problems but about solutions. (Dr. Sipho Moyo, Africa director, campaign organization ONE)
“I” – The African Youth, declare it is time “I” must do Agric.
Hoping and wishing someone reading, will be convicted to rise and assist me change the“I”into“We”as it is time, and a good time; “WE” must do Agric.
Authored: Ababio Kwame, Co-founder & CEO of Green Afro-palms: an agro organization causing facelift to the Sub Saharan Agricultural framework ,driven the youth and small scale farmers into a vibrant agriculture through best practices for cultivating plantations and value chain processing; selecting and presenting Oil Palm as an alternative commodity for vegetating our degrading environment, generating jobs, incomes and sustainable livelihoods.
Resource Information Sources:
Ghana Youth Agrifair and Youth in Agriculture stakeholders’ Accra, 2014: http://goo.gl/QLutb4).
(World Wildlife: http://goo.gl/t6r49K)
Africa Progress report, 2014
The ONE Organization
(MASDAR, Oil palm report 2011)
(Oil World, 2013)
(World Wildlife: http://goo.gl/t6r49K)
VP Sambo: http://goo.gl/gqq5gJ
KILM (ILO): http://goo.gl/vTy4aU
Metalink: P1.RES.WBK.WDI.LAB.EAT, p. 78