Agriculture for economic development: In Africa, value chains are ill-prepared to handle food surpluses in case of high farm production.

Country's economic development through agricultural growth

Agriculture for economic development: Its all about how a country manages its food surpluses!  

History teaches us that no 1st world country has developed without agricultural development. But how exactly does agricultural development bring economic development?

It is simple. If a country produces more food than it consumes, then, it must have a strategy to manage the food surplus. This can be done either through value addition, preservation, storage, or export to the rest of the world. Europe’s economic development towards the end of the 18th century was triggered by the increased agricultural productivity which resulted in food surpluses. Effective management of food surplus led to the development of factories, local markets, and trade within and between countries.

In Africa, value chains are ill-prepared to handle food surpluses in case of high farm production. We can only handle just enough. In a good agricultural season, most farmers get optimum yields from their parcels. But what follows are colossal losses due to poor post-harvest handling, poor storage, and lack of market. In Kenya for instance, it is common to read news of people sailing in food abundance after a good harvest, but one month later, news of the same people facing hunger hit headlines again.

I can tell you for free that, if farmers harvest more than they expect, they become worried because they do not know where to take the surplus. Its either you harvest more and face the losses, harvest less and face hunger, or harvest just enough and become complacent!

Africa starves come rain or sunshine.

My recommendation:

Any agricultural development agenda in Africa must always take into consideration the full production potential to create room to handle food surpluses in the future through conservation, value addition, storage, export market, etc. We must have the end in mind before we start. Hand-to-mouth agricultural development strategies must come to an end.

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