Establishment of large-scale agro-industrial processing zones is key for sustainable agriculture in Africa.

High-impact initiatives such  as agro-industrial processing zones can unlock Africa’s potential within a shorter timeline.

It is time to have a genuine conversation about the TRUE future of Agriculture in Kenya and in Africa by extension.
My hope is that this article will provoke your thoughts to assess whether our development trajectory is in line with the ambitious future aspirations of our continent.
Very optimistic statements have been made about Africa’s agriculture suggesting that:

  1. Africa’s agriculture is the next economic growth frontier,
  1. Africa’s next generation of billionaires will be farmers,
  1. Africa has the potential to feed the world,
  1. Africa is home to 60% of the world’s uncultivated arable land, etc.

It is indisputable that Africa has massive potentials, but WHEN and HOW will the above ambitions be achieved?
In my opinion, the question is no more about the potential of Africa, but rather, whether Africa can surmount the hindering factors. In Africa, risks are as many as opportunities, if not more. It is informally said that the only certain thing in Africa is uncertainty.

Failure by African government to support agriculture

Actions taken on the ground today contradict any possibility of Africa’s agricultural future becoming brighter, at least in the foreseeable future. These include:

  •   Refusal by African governments to commit money to agriculture. The Maputo declaration of 2003 endorsed that every government should allocate at least 10% of its national budget to agriculture. Very few countries have complied.
  •  Africa has a comparative advantage on major cash crops such as tea, coffee, cocoa, etc but only enjoys a small percentage of the total global revenue generated from these crops.
  • Agricultural land subdivision is taking place at an alarming rate. Reselling land and the culture of land inheritance is killing economies of scale in farming.

How shall Africa get out these pit holes and unlock its full potential? 

Going past these impediments calls for a deliberate and well-thought action plan.   In my view, implementing some longstanding recommendations will be the first step in the right direction. They include: 

  • Governments must agree to fund agriculture with 10% of their budgets,
  • Establishment of large-scale agro-industrial processing zones. This will provide the market and value addition of local produce.

I welcome more thoughts on what actions you think should be taken to turn things around in a big way in Africa.
My focus here is on high-impact initiatives, because for many years, piecemeal interventions by governments and development partners have only resulted in sustaining subsistence.


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