Agriculture in Africa
Agriculture forms 70% of Africa’s workforce, through this families, communities and countries have used traditional forms of farming. Which has seen much success and decline of the sector across Africa. With an estimated market growth of U$ 1 trillion by 2030 as founded by UN Africa. The notion of agribusiness in the continent is being interrogated through two main aspects namely Agritech and Agripreneurs.
The anticipated growth within the African Agribusiness sector is expected to tackle struggles such as global hunger, reduce poverty as well as provide prosperous employment for the African youth. This has led to an increased interest of private and return – driven investors catering to African agribusiness as compared to the expected investors in the financial sector and NGO’s.
The advancements of technology within agriculture will be fruitless if farmers are not accustomed to the techniques, availability and functions of Agritech. Organisations such as Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGARA) with support from the Rockefeller foundation took on the role of introducing small holder Tanzanian farmers to simple aspects of Agritech.
In 2016, 2000 Tanzanian farmers were trained on different techniques for reducing post-harvest loss. Techniques such as hermetic cocoons focused on alternative solutions to storing maze. Within six months farmers gained good harvest and were introduced to a simple technologically driven technique.
Cape Town based company Aerobotics uses drone technology to provide farmers with data that will increase their clients yield by 10%. The company captures birds’ eye surveillance with the use of computer technology to interpret imagery. The drone can provide predictive information on the health of the crops. Farmers can view the results on the company’s app Aeroview. The app shows results of poor performing areas for farmers to investigate. Users can also receive diagnosis caused by diseases, pests, lack of water or nutrients of the crop.
Agritech plays an important role in the attempts to improve income for small holder farmers. With the use of technology, platforms are created to provide farmers with better access to seeds, fertilizer, financial service and insurance. In an era that opens you up to the world through mobile technology, start-ups and organisations are working on reducing the gap between traditional farming and modern technology. With the aim of providing small holder farmers with a good standing in terms of production within the market. This providing relevant and much needed access to information to assist small holder farmers remain within the sector.
Companies such as Selina Wamucii are using mobile technology to connect with small holder farmers while exposing rural farmers in Kenya to a wider market. The company buys and grades produce from farmers and sells it to vendors locally and internationally. Currently the company works with 300 farmers across Kenya and sells their products across Africa, Europe, Middle East and Asia.
‘Agriculture is one of the largest and most untapped by technology sectors in the economy. I think investors are targeting agriculture because it’s the market that touches just about everyone’
Grant Brook – Twiga Foods
‘The future of African youth lies in agriculture. The future can be realised through making agriculture both profitable and ‘cool’ for young people’
Dr Akinwumi Adensia – 2017 World Food prize laureate
With a growing youth bulge, high unemployment rate and the transformation of food systems in conjunction with an increase demand of domestic foods. The agriculture sector is expected to play a significant role as an employer to African youth. Governments and organisations mainly in East and West Africa are working on showing the benefits and potential of young Africans going into agriculture. The role of agritech along with an entrepreneurial driven generation sees a tech savvy demographic merging unconventional aspects to a sector that holds great economical potential.
Young agripreneurs are redefining the odds by working through the challenges that come with lack of resources to establish a stake in the agri sector. Hurdles such as political policies that make access to land challenging and financial support are some the realities agripreneurs are faced with. The likes of Angel Adelaja creator of Fresh Direct have taken an alternative approach for producing crops in this sector. Fresh Direct is an urban farm which produces its crops in shipping containers and sold locally. While agripreneurs such as Jehiel Oliver are tackling the issue of farming equipment. Known as the African Uber, the Nigerian based Hello Tractor lets farmers rent out smart tractors to use on their farm lands.
As the increase of young agripreneur is encouraged, spaces that enable young people in the sector to interact are emerging. Mkulima Young is an online platform for young farmers to connect with each other. Created by Joseph Macharia, the platform allows for young agripreneurs to share their experiences, challenges they are facing in their enterprise.The platform also allows for them to access information on markets and prices of agricultural inputs.2017 saw the launch of the African Youth Agripreneurs (AYA) forum held in Nigeria. The forum enabled young farmers from various African countries the opportunity to showcase their skills, innovations within the African agribusiness
There are different ways to attract young people to the agribusiness sector through technological advancements which create interesting ways to manage farms. This in itself provides an opportunity of training, up skilling and vocational educational centres and platforms in African agribusiness. That will empower aspiring young agripreneurs. Companies are taking the lead in creating workshops, educational experiences that expose young Africans to the prospect of the agricultural sector.
The African Development Bank is leading in the process of planting potential young agriprenurs. The partnership with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture has led to the ENABLE youth program in countries such as Nigeria, Cameroon and Kenya. The ITTA youth agripreneur initiative aims to lead 16 youth agribusiness incubation centres and train 1536 agripreneurs.
Currently East African has gained much corporate support in establishing projects and spaces to train potential young African farmers. East Africa Trade and Investment hub, Syngenta, Inter Region Economic Network and Toyota Kenya Academy launched Young Innovators in Agribusiness competition. One of the main aims of the competition is to provide young agripreneurs the chance to market their products.While Save The Children in Ethiopia partnered with Master card foundation to create a 5 month learning cycle with the aim to improve young people’s socio economic status through an agribusiness focused enterprise.
Show and tell
Sengal , Directoire Femme en e’le vage has taken an interesting approach to attracting youth in agriculture. The organisation is comprised of 40 – 55 year old woman who are actively involved in passing on agricultural knowledge to the younger generation. Media communication has also stepped into the space of highlighting the potential of the agribusiness sector. Don’t lose the Plot is a reality show that trains contestants from Kenya and Tanzania in the business of agriculture. Contestants are given a plot to cultivate and receive a $ 10 000 prize for the most productive plot. The aim of the show is to prove to the youth in East Africa that agribusiness can be fun and profitable.
‘What we hope to achieve is a show people can make money out of farming and to change the age profile of farmers in Africa from 60 to the youth’
Patrica Gichinga – Producer