Photo composition: A. Trapani, based on photos by J. Boethling (l.), J. Muchoki/giz (r.).

15.06.2015

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Modernising and intensifying agricultural production systems is a crucial step towards ending global poverty. Here, mechanisation has a significant role to play, at all levels along the entire value chain. Our authors take the example of potato production in Kenya to demonstrate what options there are and how they can be implemented via a public-private partnership.

Agriculture accounts for about 50 per cent of gross domestic product in Africa. The majority of the population – 80 per cent in fact – works in agriculture. Despite the sector’s significance, however, the level of public and private investment is insufficient to unlock its full potential. Strong population growth is putting tremendous additional pressure on the farming sector. Moreover, not only is the urban population growing apace (more people in Zambia now live in the cities than on the land) but the rural population is ageing: young people and the educated are migrating to the cities to seek new opportunities and to earn money. As the urban population grows, consumer spending habits also change. People’s appetite for protein in the form of meat and fish is soaring, particularly in many Lower Middle Income Countries (LMICs). Consequently the demand for agricultural commodities is also rising. Agricultural productivity in Africa is largely stagnating, and current supplies are unable to keep pace with the increasing demand.

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