Africa exports agricultural goods for 15 billion dollars, but it imports them for 40 billion. The turnover is negative, maybe because 70% of agriculture is managed by little famers, who often don’t have access to the market nor the adequate means to create the distribution chain.
Despite soil’s potentialities, only 25% of land is cultivated and only 7% of this land is irrigated. This mechanism could be turned into a positive process, considering the demographic trend of next years and the increase in food demand. There will be many more people to feed and even in this case, as it happens in the energy sector, Africa could invest in its local resources to create industries fulfilling domestic demand and improving export.
From this point of view, agricolture could be enforced, thanks to new technologic instruments which agriculture is rich in.
African governments are starting to find alternative strategies to defend little farmers’ vulnerability, by supporting the complementarity between small and big companies’ work and inclusive business models. For example, Wilmar Flowers Ltd involves more than 2,500 local producers of cut flowers, which are sold at Netherlands’ auctions.
Federico Bonaglia and Lucia Wegner’s book “Africa, un continente in movimento” deals with the situation of the continent from the agricultural point of view. An important element emerges: investing in agriculture means also creating job opportunities in rural areas and starting a virtuous circle, reviving some areas which have been forgotten by administrative agendas.
With job opportunities at hand and a village linked to the rest of the country, maybe lots of people would choose to stay in the countryside and to build up their families where they have the chance to support them. Considering next decades’ demographic growth, this process could help to maintain a kind of balance between rural and urban areas: the first ones would not empty completely, while the second ones would undergo a pressure which could be smaller than we imagine.
The enforcement of agricultural politics could result in this urban decentralisation effect and lead to suburbs’ development. A smaller urbanization and some social interventions to invest in small cities’ development could make the difference.
In both contexts quality of life will be better and the nightmare about Africa becoming an exploding powder keg will be less likely to become true.