How to Improve Agriculture in Africa, Ways, Solutions, and Strategies

Introduction to how to improve agriculture in Africa: The agriculture sector is the most important economic activity in Africa. It employs about two-thirds of the continent’s working population and contributes an average of 30 to 60 percent to the GDP for each country and about 30 percent to the value of exports. However, arable land and land under permanent crops occupy only 6% of the total area of ​​Africa. 

Guide on how to improve agriculture in Africa, importance, development practices, challenges, crops, strategies, and ways to improve

How to Improve Agriculture in Afric
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Agriculture importance and its perspectives in Africa

Building an agro-ecosystem can promote social cohesion, promote profitable continental and global trade, and create millions of jobs for Africa. Transformation in the level of the farmer should try to increase production, improve market access and increase product margins. Public-private initiatives can ensure capacity building and infrastructure development in areas such as financing. 

Africa faces a growing population as well as the challenges of low agricultural production. Climate change, short autumn periods, deforestation, deteriorating farmland, and the loss of youth in urban farming communities further hinder the ability of African farms to increase crop yields. These measures are very local. However, they can be facilitated in three ways from a Pan-African perspective;

  1. Best practice sharing. Providing best practice clearing houses for farmers’ associations and governments. 
  2. Government support. Assist governments in developing skills and coordinating cross-country initiatives. 
  3. Public-private partnership initiatives. Creating the first “port of call” for large corporate and institutional investors to ensure investment effectiveness and coordination. 

A Prosperous Africa Based on Comprehensive Growth and Sustainable Development, the continent needs to invest in modern agriculture for increased activity and productivity as well as take advantage of the vast potential of Africa’s blue / ocean economy. In addition, steps need to be taken to address climate change issues and other environmental factors that pose a significant threat to the agricultural sector.

Agricultural development practices in Africa

The mechanisms by which agricultural development promotes change in the wider economy;

  1. The high agricultural productivity of labor means that agriculture employs workers in relatively well-paid rural and urban non-agricultural sectors;
  2. Increasing demand for agricultural inputs and services stimulates local production and marketing of inputs such as fertilizers, production tools, and local supply of services; 
  3. Extensive marketing engagement of smallholder farmers in agricultural value chains stimulates commercial distribution and processing activities locally;
  4. Increasing profits from agricultural production and exports finance the import of key technologies and capital that can be invested in other sectors, especially non-agricultural sectors
  5. The higher income of the smallholder increases the demand for non-food items and services which, with all its multiplier effects, promotes the diversification of the rural economy. 

While these new dynamics and sustainable economic growth create opportunities to improve households and reduce poverty, they are not enough to drive a development that is comprehensive and sustainable. This will require rural and structural changes. The structure of Africa’s economies has not changed significantly in recent decades.

The level of technology used and the productivity obtained is relatively low in economies, and production and exports are still largely concentrated on a relatively narrow range of raw agricultural commodities. Furthermore, despite the rapidly growing workforce and urban population, employment growth in rural areas in general, and the non-agricultural sectors in particular, has been slow, and poverty levels in these areas are relatively higher than in urban areas. 

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Agricultural development practices in Africa
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Africa’s agricultural condition

  • Attention should be paid to water management so that the important task of food production does not remain at the mercy of the aging climate. 
  • To ensure competitiveness, invest in better infrastructure to facilitate access to rural areas and thus reduce the cost of production, storage, and production emissions to markets. 
  • In parallel, they should focus on building trade-related capacity to increase access to African markets. Apply modern productivity enhancement methods at the farm level, using appropriately adapted methods under the Food Security Special Program.
  • Develop the ability to prepare and respond to natural and man-made disasters that, if left unchecked, could harm or alter any productivity gains those other interventions can achieve, and
  • The promotion of adoption is an important long-term guarantor of productivity and therefore competitiveness.

Challenges for agriculture in Africa

There should be no illusion of immediate reforms or miracle paths toward African self-reliance in food and agriculture. Achieving a profitable agricultural sector will require Africa to meet a complex set of challenges, including;

  • Low internal demand effective due to poverty; 
  • Poor and unprofitable external markets (with declining and unstable global commodity prices and fierce competition from subsidized agricultural products of industrialized countries; 
  • Climate risk that deters investment;
  • Limited access to technology to adopt new skills;
  • Lower levels of past investment in rural infrastructure (such as roads, markets, storage, rural electricity, etc.) are required to reduce transaction costs in farming and thus increasing its competitiveness in serving production, processing, and trade; and 
  • Institutional weaknesses in providing services for the entire agricultural chain from farm to market.

Furthermore, to improve Africa’s agricultural policy and regulatory framework. It will be needed to make it more conducive to the participation of the local community in both rural and commercial private sector activities. 

Vision for agriculture in Africa

Points to remember to achieve this by;

  • Achieving food security (both in terms of availability and affordability and ensuring access to adequate food and nutrition for the poor); 
  • Improving agricultural productivity to achieve an average annual growth rate of 6%, with special focus on small scale farmers, especially women; 
  • Maintain dynamic agricultural markets between nations and regions;
  • Integrating farmers into the market economy, including better access to markets, becoming a net exporter of agricultural products with Africa; 
  • Become a strategic player in the development of agricultural science and technology; and
  • Follow environmentally sound production practices and maintain a culture of sustainable management to avoid degradation of natural resource bases (including food and agricultural biological resources).

Major crops cultivated in Africa

Cereals and grains

Africa produces all the major grains; Corn, Wheat, and Rice; in terms of importance. Corn is the most widely distributed, grown in almost all ecological zones. 

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Major crops cultivated in Africa
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Legumes and fodder

Except in the sub-tropical regions of North Africa, fodder crops are not grown and in the mountainous regions of East and South Africa, where pure alfalfa (Lucerne) stands are raised. Protein-rich beans are widely grown, usually sown in conjunction with other crops. These include Velvet Beans, Cowpeas, Soybeans, and Lablab (hyacinth beans). 

Tubers and root crops

Hardy cassava cultivation has expanded significantly, especially in West and Central Africa. It has displaced yam cultivation in many areas and has ceased to be regarded as merely a reservoir of famine. While, Potatoes are cultivated in countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya, and Madagascar. Sweet potatoes are widely grown in tropical forest areas. 

Fruits and vegetables

Major fruits include Bananas, Pineapples, Dates, Figs, Olives, and Lemons. Important vegetables include Tomatoes and Onions. Tomatoes and Onions are widely grown, but the most productive areas are adjacent to the Mediterranean. Cabbage and Cauliflower are grown in the region from where some of the export to southern Europe is possible. The main vegetables of tropical Africa include Pepper, Okra, Eggplant, Cucumber, and Watermelon. 

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Lemon farming in Africa
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Beverage crops

Some beverage crops like Tea, Coffee, Cocoa, and Grapes are all grown in Africa. Another cash crops are the oil palm, which grows extensively in secondary shrubs in tropical forest areas. 

Strategies for improving smallholder production systems for agriculture in Africa

Agricultural development lies at the heart of most developing countries’ agricultural development at the heart of poverty reduction and increased food security. Increasing productivity and food security in Africa can be achieved if appropriate investments are made in key interventions: improving soil fertility, improved seed, water management, market access, extension services, access to credit, and improvements in weather forecasting. Where this has happened, even in part, the result has been remarkable. 

Creating a Positive Environment for Agricultural Growth through the principles of NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa’s Development) 

  • Maintaining and establishing a sound macroeconomic policy framework and an open economy based on continuous and improved economic reform, independent exchange and trading systems and investment systems, strong institutional, legal, and regulatory systems, accountability, competence and professionalism, and the rule of law. 
  • Ensuring efficient physical infrastructure, utilizing modern information and communication technology, through regulatory reforms, privatization, and additional investment in key infrastructure (including road/rail transport, telecommunications, power, ports, shipping, and transit facilities), and encouraging private sector participation in infrastructure financing and operation. 
  • Encourage and promote the growth, diversification, and depth of the financial sector to mobilize savings to meet business investment and working capital needs, in the context of an unorganized but carefully monitored system of financial intermediation.
  • Remove barriers to cross-border trade and investment, including harmonizing tax and investment regulations to promote regional integration. 
  • Take steps to enhance the business, managerial and technical capabilities of the private sector. 
  • National and sub-regional mechanisms for promoting investment and trade by disseminating information about business opportunities, identifying and targeting potential investors and export markets, serving investors, and providing export credit and insurance schemes. 
  • Strengthen chambers of commerce, trade, and professional associations, and regional networks to provide market information and training to its members to promote exports and investment. 
  • Arrange for dialogue between the government and the private sector to develop a common vision for economic growth strategies and to remove obstacles to private sector development. 
  • Strengthen and encourage the development of micro, small and medium enterprises through appropriate technical assistance from service organizations and civil society, and improve access to industry capital by strengthening microfinance schemes, in particular with a focus on women entrepreneurs. 

Ways to improve agriculture productivity and growth in Africa

Produce high-yielding crops

Increasing research on plant breeding, which takes into account Africa’s unique soil types, is an important requirement. The CGIAR consortium of agricultural research centers estimates that the benefits of such research will estimate yield six dollars. 

Precision farming

A precision farming startup in Nigeria helps farmers determine the right fertilizer to apply to their soil and at the same time provide maximum water to their fields. The company obtains such information by measuring and analyzing soil data such as nutrients, temperature, and plant health. This group improves the productivity of the farm and reduces the input waste for small-scale farmers. Although these examples of accurate farming show that technology does improve farming in Africa, Africa still needs major changes in its infrastructure to connect the entire continent technically and make a large-scale soil map. 

Efficient irrigation methods

Solar-powered drip irrigation kits in Africa make watering crops more affordable. Increase groundwater use through the distribution of low-cost treadle pumps and drip irrigation kits in Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, and other countries. 

Boost irrigation

With the increasing effects of climate change on climatic patterns, more irrigation will be required. The average yield in irrigated fields is 90% higher than in nearby rain-fed fields. 

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Ways to improve agriculture productivity and growth in Africa
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Land and water management

Worldwide, the use of water and its systematic use has been an essential factor in increasing the productivity of agriculture and ensuring productivity forecasting. Water is essential for harnessing the potential of the earth and for making the best use of other factors to increase the productivity of both plants and animals. By increasing productivity, water management (especially when combined with proper soil husbandry) helps to ensure better production for both direct consumption and commercial disposal, therefore essential for the development of rural economies. Increasing the production of economic surpluses.

Improved soil management

It is a prime example of a densely populated area in western Kenya, Africa, where soil fertility is declining and land resources are under constant threat. One solution provided by the World Agro-Forestry Center was a low-cost integrated soil package that used organic fertilizers to supplement existing organic resources such as phosphorus dressings as well as biomass transfer to supply nitrogen to crops. A set of other technologies such as high-quality crop seeds fill the soil with phosphorus and nitrogen. Farmers in Kenya have increased their maize production by 2 to 3 times their normal production with the help of these technologies. 

Increase the use of fertilizers

As soil fertility deteriorates, fertilizer use should increase. at the right time and the right price, governments need the right kind of fertilizer is available. 

Improve market access, regulations, and governance

Improving rural infrastructure, such as roads, is essential to increase productivity through reduced shipping costs and deteriorating production losses. Providing better incentives to farmers in food subsidies can increase agricultural production by about 5%. 

Make better use of information technology

Information technology can help in the better selection of crops, fertilizers, and pesticides. Giving information to farmers about crop prices in different markets has increased their bargaining power. 

Adopt genetically modified (GM) crops

Adoption of GM crops is limited in Africa. Overseas consumer resistance has been a stumbling block, especially in Europe. An analysis of more than 100 studies found that GM crops reduced pesticide use by 37%, increased yields by 22%, and farmers’ profits by 68%.

Reform land ownership keeping in mind productivity and inclusiveness – Africa has the largest arable land in the world (202 million hectares) yet most farms occupy less than 2 hectares. This is the result of poor governance and ownership of land. Land reforms on the African continent have yielded mixed results, but changes that clearly define property rights ensure the protection of land tenure and enable land to be used as collateral. 

Accelerate integration into agricultural value chains (AVCs)

Partly driven by the development of international supermarket chains, African economies have gradually diversified from traditional cash crops to fruits, vegetables, fish, and flowers. Government support, which is important for small farmers’ integration into larger cooperatives and groups, may be needed in other areas that help integrate with wider markets. 

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Carrot farming in Africa
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Building partnerships

As agricultural market opportunities expand in Africa, the dynamics around production and consumption change and interest in the sector grows between different public and private actors, new forms of alliances and partnerships. Farmers’ cooperatives have played an important role in mitigating the risks involved in partnerships between smallholders and agribusinesses. By agribusiness, working with farmers whose product provides maximum protection and sustainability rather than multiple diversified farming units because scale and quality can be better achieved. Support from the state is essential for advancing the partnership. 

Providing and maintaining critical infrastructure

Either directly or through partnerships with private actors and development agencies to enable smallholders effective and profitable access to input and output markets, information and training, energy, and finance Indispensable for making. Reducing the risks involved for agribusiness operators requires government support and guarantee arrangements in many cases – especially when the pre-investment requirements are large and the time frame is long. Stable macroeconomic policies, implementation of property rights and agreements, as well as transparency are needed to create an institutional environment where agribusiness companies are encouraged to do business with smallholders.


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