Africa Is Open For Business
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The future of farming in Africa is not agriculture but agribusiness
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Africa is a farm lover’s dream: abundant
uncultivated arable land, roughly over
half the global total; tropical climates that
permit long growing seasons; a young
labor force; and an expanding population
that provides a readily available market
for produce consumption.

Yet, African countries are yet to harness
these opportunities to ensure sustainable
food security and food production. The
average age of farmers is about 60
years—in a continent where 60% of the
population is under 24 years of age.
Farmers are also less educated, with
younger, more educated Africans are
leaving rural areas, where farms are
located, and moving to cities.
Some of these youngsters are also discouraged by the difficulties of accessing funds or land, the reliance on
manual technology in smallholder agriculture, all compounded by the low and volatile profits.

But to remedy these issues, a new report suggests governments should change their outlook on agriculture from
a subsistence, daily activity into a commercial enterprise. The African Center for Economic Transformation
(ACET) says focusing on the entire value chain of the process—land tenure, farming technology, markets, and
pricing—would help transform food systems around the continent. Positioning farming “as a business and
entrepreneurial endeavor” would also help draw younger people into the practice, and make them see it as less
of a “cool” idea and more as a “career option.”

Former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, a commercial farmer himself, told journalist in an interview last
month that he sees agribusiness as one of the few sectors that can “create the quantum of jobs needed for
Africa’s youth.”
This marked transformation could be
instituted by boosting productivity within
the farms and bolstering the link
between the farms and other economic
segments. For instance, strengthening
land tenure privileges ensures the rights
of women and increases the formality of
property rights.

As the global population continues to
soar—it’s expected to approach 10
billion by 2050—there’s plenty more to
be done. We’ll need to boost agricultural
production by at least 70%, according to
the UN’s Food and Agriculture
Organization (FAO).
Given that Africa’s share of the global population is forecast to rise from 15% to 25%, there’s a mounting
appreciation that farmers on the second-largest continent will have to play a key role if this boom is to be
managed successfully.

“We can and would be happy to feed the world,” said Raajeev Bopiah, general manager of the East
Usambara Tea company, which produces over 4 million kilograms of tea a year on its 5,000 acres of land in
Tanzania. “We just need the knowledge and the funding.”
“Transportation in Africa is so hard. It’s expensive and sometimes risky,” said Ahmad Ibrahim of
African Alligator, a mostly Ugandan firm that started off hauling carpets and elevators before
moving into the sesame and peanut trade. Ibrahim says border waits “can be long, and goods
perish.”

As far as leading African agronomists are concerned, Africa is playing a desperate game of
catch-up. “We don’t have the time [that] developing countries had in the 60s. Today in Africa,
not only do you have to produce better, but in a globalized world, you have to sell better too,”
said Ousmane Badiane, Africa Director at the Washington D.C-based International Food Policy
Research Institute (IFPRI).
Unlocking the Potential of Agribusiness
Africa’s farmers and agribusinesses could create a trillion-dollar food market by 2030 if they
can expand their access to more capital, electricity, better technology and irrigated land to
grow high-value nutritious foods.  Business owners call on governments to work side by side
with agribusinesses, to link farmers with consumers in an increasingly urbanized Africa.

Africa’s food and beverage markets are projected to reach $1 trillion by 2030. By way of
comparison, the current size of the market is $313 billion, offering the prospect of a three-
fold increase, bringing more jobs, greater prosperity, less hunger, and significantly more
opportunity, enabling African farmers to compete globally.