gE Blog Series: Agribusiness Part 4 - Agriculture in Africa
With the world population recently reaching 7 billion, many wonder how the agriculture industry will keep up to feed this multitude of people. It seems that much of the success will come from developing countries. Many of these countries are a large part of the growing population and also have natural resources that produce a large amount of the world’s agricultural products. Still, an enormous amount of effort is needed to increase agricultural production in developing countries.
Africa in particular has many small farms that produce a large amount of its agricultural output. Many of these small farms are primarily made up of female workers, which makes women a large part of the future success of agriculture in Africa. Women make up more than half of the farming labor force, yet are not able to take ownership of their efforts. This is mainly due to the customs, traditions, and laws in many African countries that prohibit women from owning their own land. Since they are unable to own the land they farm, there is little incentive for women farmers to improve or innovate. This leads to production levels well below potential. Empowering women will be essential for African farmers to increase their exports and feed their growing local populations.
While estimates say that about one third of the world’s population relies on small farms for their food, Africa still needs to increase its output by creating larger, more efficient farms. Zambia is one African nation that has already begun to do this. Zambia’s proximity to South Africa has prompted it to increase farming competition. Zambeef is the largest agricultural business in Zambia owning many acres of fertile soil. This fertile land helps the company produce a variety of agricultural products at high efficiency. However, Zambeef is the only large scale Zambian farm; the majority are still small local farms. In order for these small farms to be able to compete globally, the Zambian government will need to offer tax incentives for them to expand and innovate.
For Africa, and other developing areas around the world, to begin utilizing its agricultural resources to its full potential, it will need to encourage the growth of small farmers. Empowering women and providing incentives for farmers to innovate and utilize technology will be the key to success for the agriculture industry.