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Do African youths believe in the potential of agribusiness?

02.04.2019
Article from AFRIC Editorial
According to the Collins dictionary, Agribusiness is the production, selling and distribution of farm products by an individual or establishment on a large scale. Agribusiness also referred to as Commercial agriculture involves not only animal rearing, cash and subsistence crop cultivation, but also the production of chemical input, equipment, technical and medical services for farming. In this sector of business, the demand has always been constant but fast rising on a global scale, therefore increasing the need for Agribusiness.

Agribusiness is highly attributed to the less developed countries in Asia, Latin America and most commonly Africa. Considering Africa, this is evident because more than 70% of the 1.216 billion Africans either live in desert areas or depend on subsistence agriculture while the other 30% comprises of co-operate workers or merchandise business people. African is still covered greatly by vegetation, unexploited natural resources, desert and few industrial structures and the rest available for agriculture. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) believes that African Agribusiness precisely the Sub-Saharan Region has improved the quantity and variety of agro-products.

Agribusiness was introduced in Africa by the colonial masters as plantation agriculture on a large scale with crops such as banana, tea, cotton, cocoa, palm trees, sugarcane, coffee, rice and more. They employed Africans as manual labourers and trained them to use equipment like wheel barrows, spades, cutlasses and farming automobile. Africans learned new farming methods, soil fertility improvement and application of insecticides and continued practicing them on small and large scale farms.

 Government survey of Agricultural Programs and Personal Initiatives of Young People

After the colonial period, the Governments of different African countries maintained, expanded and employed their citizens in plantations providing employment till today. The Governments of African countries have also created ministries like Ministries of Agriculture, Land Survey, Environment/Protection, Labour/Employment, Forestry/Fishing, Vocational Training/Unskilled Labour that control agribusinesses/environmental related businesses, ensuring that stakeholders especially in the private sector follow the stipulated rules governing sustainable farm practices to avoid environmental degradation. Many governments have also approved co-operations, microfinance institutions, learning institutions/programs and trade unions that act as the middlemen between small scale farmers and buyers at the world market. The governments of African countries do research/provide information on marketing opportunities, loans, aid from international organizations. They provide farm equipment/input; organize seminars on new farming methods. In a bit to encourage rural farmers, governments reduce/eliminate their taxes, provide funds, equipment and supervisors/mentors their activities.

The following African based Organizations support Agribusiness; African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP) South Africa, African Development Bank (AfDB) Côte D’Ivoire, Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) Gabon, Economic Community of Central African States (ECOWAS) Nigeria, Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC) Central African Republic, The African Business Academy Wageningen University & Research Foundation Uganda, Institute of Agricultural Research for Development (Institut de Recherge Agricole pour le Development) (IRAD) Cameroon and many more.

 Activities people in Rural and Urban areas undertake to boost Agribusiness

In Rural areas, agriculture is the major activity through which the young and the old get finances to provide for themselves, their families and communities due to little or no education and consequently no jobs. They rear animals such as cattle, goats, pigs, fowls, sheep, guinea pigs, ducks, rabbits, cane rats and cultivate crops such as beans, cassava, plantains, banana, cocoyam, ground nuts, maize, rice, potatoes, vegetables, coffee and fruits. They practice mixed farming, mixed cropping, animal husbandry, bush fallowing and nomadism.  They sell in their local markets to middlemen between themselves and the world market. Governments are aware and support them in many ways through co-operations. The products submitted by farmers to the Co-operations are checked their quality to fit world standards. Governments also monitor market prices to avoid exploitation of vendors. The Co-operations receive funds and farm inputs from Governments, International NGOs, Microfinance Institutions and even Individuals for the rural farmers. They organize seminars and workshops to teach Rural farmers new farming methods with equipment and use of farm inputs. Rural farmers are paid by the Co-operations after specified time. However, Rural farmers who do not belong to any Co-operation prefer to sell their products directly to any buyers who take them to Urban and world Markets.

In the Urban areas, Agriculture is quite a challenge because most African youths are not very interested in it. They prefer white collar jobs, skilled and unskilled labour in others fields. Agribusiness is done on a large scale especially in plantations in Urban areas and Youths are more exposed to opportunities, information and a great market making them more viable than those in Rural areas. Some buy products from Rural farmers and sell farm input in return. They also act as middlemen between Rural farmers and Agro-industries. The following co-operations foster Agribusiness in Africa; Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services (GFRAS) Cameroon, Fondation Farm Côte D’Ivoire, Kenya livestock Producers Association Kenya, Chede Co-operative Credit Union Cameroon, African Farmers Association of South Africa(AFASA) South Africa, Nigeria Farmers’ Group and Co-operative Society (NFG-CS) Nigeria and more.

Agriculture is a vital and inevitable activity which sustains the world and has not only provided job/business opportunities but also eliminated hunger in many countries and maintained good health. It should be a major item for every African Government’s sustainable development program especially for the Youths.

Article from AFRIC Editorial

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