From field to fork: Africa needs to make huge leap forward to mechanised agriculture
African agriculture, with its tremendous potential, is attracting increasing attention from global investors and policymakers alike — but the real challenge here is to close the gap between the region’s potential and its current low levels of productivity, which are estimated at only 40% of its capacity by the African Development Bank (AfDB). (Image: )
The tremendous potential of African agriculture is netting the sector increasing attention from global investors and policymakers alike — but the real challenge here is to close the gap between the region’s potential and its current low levels of productivity.
According to the African Development Bank (AfDB), the agricultural sector of the continent has the potential to support 80% percent of livelihoods for Africa’s 1.1 billion population, but the sector is estimated to operate at only 40% of its capacity.
However, the situation is expected to change for the better going forward, with a leading US-based distributor and manufacturer of agricultural equipment, AGCO, looking forward to support sustainable mechanisation across Africa.
Indeed, the company professes to ambitious objectives of designing customised products for Africa; providing education in successful agricultural practices; training operators and mechanics; and providing first-class support to customers in the field.
In the meantime, however, Africa’s agricultural productivity continues to be one of the lowest of any region in the world, and, ultimately, initiatives are united by a common goal in making African agriculture into a viable, sustainable business proposition to increase the sector’s attractiveness for Africa’s growing youth population.
And, it is here that the lack of mechanisation poses a huge hurdle indeed for the growth of agricultural productivity. As of the turn of the millennium, there were only 200,000 tractors in use in all of Sub-Saharan Africa, with only around 10% of cropped land in Africa currently prepared by tractor, and only 4% of land irrigated, compared to a towering acreage of almost 1 million in China and over 1.5 million in India.
AGCO is also building a future farm in Zambia, slated to open officially in May 2015, which is expected to provide farmers with training and demonstration on topics ranging from basic agronomy to general mechanisation techniques, as well as courses on more advanced tractors and precision farming techniques.
Yet again, apart from mechanisation, financing is a live issue for farmers as banks and traditional financial institutions have always viewed agriculture as risky, thus agriculture supply companies are working closely with financial institutions to come up with solutions to bridge this gap.
Martin Dawkins, regional head of EMEA for Bayer CropScience, a leading supplier of farming chemicals and inputs explained that, “once farmers get the proof that they can deliver and return, credit ratings go up. For the mid-size farmers particularly, they become bankable quite quickly.”
Finally, the key issue at stake here is that the rural space is being neglected in favour of urban areas, though it is a fact that the rural space provides environmental benefits to the urban areas, besides providing social services, food and job opportunities.
AGCO is a global leader in the design, manufacture and distribution of agricultural equipment.
AGCO supports greater productivity in farming through a full line of tractors, combines, hay tools, sprayers, forage equipment, grain storage and protein production systems, seeding and tillage implements and replacement parts.
Founded in 1990, AGCO is headquartered in Duluth, Georgia, USA. In 2014, AGCO had net sales of $9.7 billion.
Source: This is Africa