Africa’s Cocoa is worldwide known for its quality and value for money. Africa rice is not known for quality and for value for money. Africa’s oil, gold, Bauxite is known for its value for money. Africa’s maize, soybeans, cowpee’s, coffee, groundnuts are all worldwide not known as good value for money.
The cost of production, even if the farmers in Africa will harvest ten times as much per hectare as to day, will still be too high to have sufficient profit margin to gain value for money acceptance.
Is Africa self-reliance a matter of availability or insufficient value for money? The average small holder farmer if he increases his production per hectare to the same as his international competitors he still will not earn sufficient to feed his family and build his farm. If an average growth of production per hectare by 15% annually can be achieved over a period of 15 years then still that is not sufficient to lift the smallholder farmer up to middle-income living standards.
Current farm policy interventions are very much like a national football coach who goes to the street and randomly selects 20 men and tell them we will train you for 3 month and after that, you will be our national football team! What do you think will such a coach succeed with his team?
If in Africa farming is considered as the most important industry for our economic well-being how come? We still act like the football coach who randomly selects people on the street and calls his team the national football team. In Africa, there is a tendency if it comes to commercial farming to under estimate the high potentials among our own young farmers. There are in every district in Africa at least 100 high potential young farmers who like the farming profession and who want to establish their own commercial farm, but who do not have the needed land in commercial sizable farms, who have no finance, not sufficient support from advisory services, no mechanization etcetera. For those high potential farmers there is nothing. Yes, there are programs for small holders and large established farms, but none of the programs is supporting the African high potential farmers who will be able in 2030 to produce for a cost of production that is competitive with the world market leaders.
Africa needs to develop an approach towards the high potential farmers that will generate a competitive farming industry in Africa that makes our cost of feeding the nation to one of the most competitive in the world. Is this possible? Yes it is! Africa’s competitive advantage is so far never utilized. What is Africa’s competitive advantage? First Africa’s high potential farmers, second Africa’s climate, third Africa’s geographic position. Africa needs to make choices in agriculture. If we want to continue with social intervention for the next 20 to 30 years and leave the commercial farming to large foreign investors, or do we want to establish a high potential farming industry owned by African farmers who make this country to world food producing giant.
The Terra Agric is working on the introduction of the Farm Future Franchise program in cooperation with grassroots stakeholders like traditional landowners. What does the Terra Agric want to establish?
First Terra Agric group wants to offer the high potentials young farmers an opportunity to farm we will train them on the job and assist them with their development of their commercial family based farms.
Second Terra Agric wants to work with the local authorities and businesses on farmland allocation plans, and establish landbanks who will facilitate high potential farmers with the best land in their area.
Third Terra Agric facilitates access to finance. Fourth a farmers’ cooperative that guarantees the sales of their produce.
Terra Agric has worked for many years on the development of this program with pilot projects throughout Africa, and is able to facilitate the high potential farmers with a private owned family farm, that they if well managed, they can handover to the next generations of high potential African farmers to come.
Author: Rene Haveman
Managing Director at TERRA AGRIC INTERNATIONAL BV