It is a well acknowledge fact that the continent – Africa has a vast amount of underutilized fertile lands with the potential (i.e. if properly utilized) of transforming the continent into the new powerhouse in terms of food production (i.e. Africa as the new food basket for the world). Agricultural production on these vast fertile lands across the continent is mainly dominated by traditional small-scale production practices with less or no technological ability to effectively tap into the potential of these land resources. It is a well discussed topic by agricultural expects that effective agricultural production strategies (i.e. employing smart production practices) have the potential to reduce poverty and drive economic growth across the continent. Currently, Agriculture including Fisheries, poultry, livestock and forest products accounts for nearly half of the continents GDP and employs over 60% of the labour force.
Africa’s population is rapidly growing accompanied with increasing longevity across all age groups; this means the demand for safe and quality food will continue to rise sharply accordingly. A recent World Bank report estimated that by 2030, agriculture could develop into a one trillion dollar industry in the sub-Saharan part of Africa alone; hence, one could envisage more agribusiness related opportunity could be generated across the entire continent if investment and startup initiatives training becomes part and parcel of the education system in the society especially in our tertiary education system.
Instead of training future agricultural professional to just memorize information and regurgitating it back during examinations, their training should be structured to make such future expects think critically (analytically) concerning how to effectively tap into the potential of agribusiness. This could be achieved in part, through making the necessary structural and investment adjustments in the setup of tertiary education needed to enhance the technical capacities of such prospective experts to make them competent to spot emerging trends and priorities in the agribusiness sector.
Tertiary education in collaboration with the appropriate stakeholders must position themselves strategically to enable them tap into the potential of agribusiness if they are to contribute meaningfully to the socioeconomic development of this continent. This means, the capacity (in terms of resources – equipment and capital flow) of tertiary agricultural education networks (i.e. including agricultural colleges and extension education) should be enhanced to enable them to align the curriculum/teaching style/training methods with emerging trends in African-agribusiness opportunities for optimal benefits for the institutions themselves, the future experts (i.e. graduates) they trained and the continent as a whole.
Author: Dr. Amos MensahDr. Amos Mensah
Agricultural and Resource Economist (Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at Georg-August-Universität Göttingen)