African agriculture can drive development – even if the continent is currently unable to feed its own populations, says the study “Food, Jobs and Sustainability” published by Berlin Institute for Population and Development in August 2018.
For this to happen, farmers must use modern methods to achieve better yields, and they must avoid repeating the mistakes that were made elsewhere as agricultural production intensified. If the region can then succeed in creating agricultural-processing-sector jobs in rural areas and in gaining access to markets, an important development step will have been taken.
In theory, sub-Saharan Africa has what it takes to create a strong agricultural sector: enough land suitable for crop farming and animal husbandry, favourable climatic conditions and a large workforce, the study says. In addition, the governments of the 49 countries between the Sahel and the Cape of Good Hope as well as international donors have realised that the urgently needed development leap must begin in agriculture, a sector that has long been neglected.
However, there are major practical challenges to be overcome. Family smallholdings, which account for most agricultural production, are generally not very efficient, above all because they lack access to know-how and capital and do not have secure land rights. Food security is worsening amid climate change and conflicts. In addition, facilities are lacking to process crops and livestock into commercial-grade, profitable food products and thereby create rural jobs.
The study not only describes ideas and approaches but also offers examples of good practice and promising projects. In Senegal, for example, a veterinarian has built a value chain for domestic milk. In Côte d'Ivoire, a women's cooperative is refining raw cocoa to produce the finest chocolate. And in Nigeria, a company is developing high-tech agricultural aids that even farmers with less capital can afford.
Download the study “Food, Jobs and Sustainability”: