According to international businessman, Dr Alvaro Sobrinho, African agriculture is far from fulfilling its potential. He argues that Africa agriculture could, if properly utilised, be turned into a driving force in Africa development. For this to happen, argues Dr Sobrinho, Africa must view agriculture as a business, not a lifestyle, and invest accordingly in agricultural technologies.
In regards to agriculture, the situation in Africa is dire. With low-levels of investments, poor financing options for farmers and a lack of access to modern technologies, it is no surprise that 80% of African farmers are of the small-scale, subsistence variety, despite there being numerous innovative agricultural entrepreneurs on the continent, points out Dr Sobrinho.
On top of this, over 60% of the world’s uncultivated farm land is located in Africa. This means there is huge productive potential waiting to be unlocked. “If we want to ensure the full potential of the continent’s agricultural sector, we must take decisive action on this issue”, concedes Sobrinho.
To do so, Dr Alvaro Sobrinho suggests looking to successful examples of modern agricultural transformations. For this, Dr Sobrinho sets his sights on Brazil, a country, he says, which has turned its agricultural sector into a bombing industry in just a few short decades.
The key to Brazilian success claims Dr Sobrinho, has been the countries willingness to invest in its agricultural sector. In particular, Dr Sobrinho highlights the case of a new variety of soybean, developed by a government funded research institution, which doubled the countries soy production capacity.
Dr Sobrinho believes Africa could achieve the same successes as Brazil if countries are willing to “financially empowering their research agencies”. Innovative financial tools will be essential for turning Africa’s anachronistic agricultural sector into an efficient and effective, profit producing industry.
For Africa to develop in the 21st century, the continent must “use sustained investment and focus in agriculture and agri-business to underpin economic success” concludes Dr Sobrinho.