The role of agricultural innovations in creating food security in Africa

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The agricultural sector employs about 60% of Africa’s workforce yet 1/4 of the world’s undernourished and hungry people live in Africa. Despite impressive economic growth rates across Africa, many of the continent’s people remain food insecure. Africa’s food insecurity is growing worse with population estimations at 2.4 billion in 2050. With vast land on the continent, famine and starvation should be a thing of the past.

Methods of agriculture have changed considerably, however we cannot overlook the role agricultural innovations play in ensuring food security in Africa. With problems of diseases, unreliable rainfall and climate resulting in floods and drought, there is an urgent need to employ modern innovative technologies to help optimize yields and productivity.
Modern agronomy, irrigation, selective breeding, post-harvest technology, value chain agriculture, market linkage, subsidized fertilizers for local farmers are all innovative ways of boosting agricultural yields.

Education underlines a huge potential in transforming the agricultural sector. Agricultural institutions and agencies must transfer knowledge to help benefit farmers. They can also offer local farmers some form of literacy training to help them understand the rudiments of modern technology. They have to break the farmers’ initial emotional barriers to new technology. Farmers require a certain level of education to apply innovative modern technologies.

The climate innovation center offers climate focused technology to farmers to help boost agricultural productivity in Kenya. They also give relevant information to farmers to help them cope with climate change. The role of governments in creating innovation in the field of agriculture cannot be over emphasized. African governments can formulate policies that will benefit local farmers by reducing imports and encouraging the consumption of locally grown foods. In 2001 the government of Ghana executed a free mass spraying of cocoa trees for local farmers. This resulted in Ghana becoming the 2nd world leading producer of cocoa. It also accounted for 35% of Ghana’s GDP and 55% of employment with 75% export revenues.

Nedbank is promoting and rewarding agricultural innovations and best practices in South Africa. They invested about R8.3 million in this sector. Mobile app, iCow, allows farmers to track the gestation period and progress of cows, and also makes use of SMS and voice services. An electronic voucher system can be used to help cash strapped farmer’s access agricultural inputs in Zimbabwe. Weather apps such as farm support helps farmers track up-to-date weather forecasting.

Such agricultural innovations will help reduce post-harvest losses, produce resistant varieties of crops and livestock, and also optimize yields. More government funded storage facilities for perishable farm produce will also help reduce post-harvest losses. These innovations and initiatives in agriculture will help make the sector more attractive to the youth.

The younger generations are shying away from agriculture and this is a major issue to be concerned about but through such innovative technologies and initiatives, the agricultural sector will become an attractive and lucrative venture for African youth. Over the last decades lots of the populace in east and central Africa have been displaced over wars and insurgency. Beyond agricultural innovations, Africa needs a peaceful and stable continent for such initiatives to thrive.

Posted by Kwabena Ameyaw

Creative Writer and Freelance Journo. Social Activist . Follow on twitter @Fhresh_matic

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