In a continent that suffers from a food crisis every other year, little emphasis has been placed on mechanizing the farming business in Africa
- Agriculture employs a considerable proportion of the African population and contributes a sizable portion of the continent’s GDP
- In a study issued in February 2022, the Global Hunger Initiative stated that 45 million people in 43 African nations risked starvation
- Food availability has long been recognized as a crucial factor in achieving long-term economic success
“Economic growth is only sustainable if all nations have food security,” says Maximo Torero of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). He states, “Without a country-owned and led food security policy, global, regional, and national economic growth would face challenges and additional expenses.”
Food availability has long been recognized as a crucial factor in achieving long-term economic success. Food is also seen as essential to the emotional and physical well-being of people in any community. As a result, any food-insecure society is likely to suffer major human capital issues and, as a result, growth challenges. Therefore
For that reason, eradicating malnutrition was a vital goal of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and remains a crucial goal of the more recently proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In a study issued in February 2022, the Global Hunger Initiative stated that 45 million people in 43 African nations risked starvation. Conflict, COVID-19, and climate change have all contributed to the creation of new and worsening hunger hotspots, as well as the reversal of progress gained by families to escape poverty.
The Ukraine conflict is exacerbating food poverty in several African nations that rely on Russian and Ukrainian supplies of wheat, sunflower oil, fertilizer, fuel, and gas. Sanctions, port closures, and delayed production and supply are pushing up food, energy, and transportation prices resulting in food shortages and cost-of-living increases that are especially harsh on the most vulnerable.
The rise in petroleum prices impacts the cost of production and transportation of essential market items to Africa.
The African agriculture sector’s flaws have come to light as global food prices continue soaring daily. For a long time, Africa has been primarily concerned with small-scale subsistence farming. In this sense, farmers rely only on humans as a source of labour.
In a continent that suffers from a food crisis every other year, little emphasis has been placed on mechanizing the farming business in Africa. Food shortages are consequently likely to intensify unless concrete actions are taken to increase agricultural output within the region.
An overview of the African agricultural sector
Agriculture employs a considerable proportion of the African population and contributes a sizable portion of the continent’s GDP. Despite its importance to the regional economies, agriculture is primarily undeveloped in African countries.
This translates to agricultural growth in Africa having enormous potential. One of the biggest impediments to achieving agricultural development and food security has been the restricted usage of mechanization.
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Agricultural productivity in Africa has been broadly stable during the last six decades. As a result, the possibility of famine is ever-present in a continent with such an enormous agricultural output potential.
Indeed, the African agriculture industry benefits from favourable weather and climate circumstances. The reintroduction of agriculture to Africa’s development agenda may spark renewed interest in mechanization. A combination of agriculture and other positive variables might put the continent on the road to food security.
Several developing countries in South America and Asia have demonstrated that investing in agricultural machinery makes it feasible to convert the agricultural sector into a profitable commercial enterprise. For example, due to higher productivity related to agricultural machinery investment, nations such as India, Brazil, and China are now global leaders in agricultural output and exports.
If mechanization remains widely embraced, a similar type of revolution might be realized across the African continent. As a result, production would increase, food security would be realized, and reliance on food imports would be reduced.
The mechanization of agriculture in Africa under the law
Everyone has the right to sufficient and appropriate food under international and African human rights laws. To defend this right, governments must implement regulations and launch initiatives to guarantee that everyone can access safe and nutritious food.
African leaders endorsed the Maputo Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security in 2003 as part of the suggested policy reform, which requires nations to allocate at least 10 per cent of public spending to agriculture to generate 6 per cent annual growth in the industry.
Further to the Maputo Declaration, the Malabo Montpellier Panel (MMP), an African and global expert group, advised in 2014 that African governments adopt national agricultural mechanization investment plans as a vital step toward enhancing productivity.
Despite this, African agriculture systems remain the least mechanized of any continent. As a result, agricultural labour productivity – a key predictor of farmers’ earnings and, by extension, food and nutrition security – has remained stagnant.
To make agriculture appealing to the young, governments must overcome the “hoe and cutlass” culture. The strategy is based on the reality that Africa’s development partners have also begun to support mechanization. Africa is likewise recognized as a developing market by the world’s major agricultural machinery businesses.
Effect of mechanization of agriculture in Africa
Agriculture can fuel long-term economic growth and development. Successful realization of this promise calls for agricultural mechanization to play a critical role in Africa, a region that suffers from food insecurity.
Indeed, mechanization is a critical component of agricultural output that African nations have historically disregarded. Increased mechanization has been recognized as a means of increasing agricultural production, which is also one of the sustainable development goals (zero poverty and food security).
Agricultural mechanization decreases drudgery, alleviates labour shortages, and improves agricultural output and timeliness. Furthermore, using new eco-friendly technology allows farmers to grow crops more effectively while using less electricity. Agricultural mechanization also significantly helps the expansion of value chains and food systems by improving the efficiency of post-harvest, processing, and marketing operations.
Food security appears to be a possibility with greater technology, as mechanization is a significant element impacting agricultural output. Increased mechanization enhances actual food yield in Africa, according to research.
As a result, government investment in mechanization becomes a priority in the quest for improved agricultural output. Mechanization must be included as an essential component of the innovation necessary to increase African agricultural output.
Many African nations are at the stage where additional land must be developed to meet increasing market requirements. The existing land must be more seriously developed, requiring more mechanization per unit of land. Therefore, making proper expenditures on mechanization remains necessary. As a result, the importance of policies encouraging higher levels of investment in mechanization cannot be overstated.
Successful mechanization will be critical in addressing severe difficulties in the continent’s agricultural sector, such as skyrocketing food import costs and widespread rural unemployment. Countries on the continent can leverage public-private partnerships to promote local machinery businesses and ensure the deployment of inexpensive and relevant technologies.
Incentivizing the private sector to engage in mechanization through tax breaks and appropriate subsidies is also critical for optimal agricultural returns.
Finally, because of breakthroughs in renewable energy and digital technology, Africa may bypass the stages of technological growth that other areas have had to go through, making its mechanization process both quick and profitable.