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Agriculture is the pillar of the African economic development

         Date: 2012-03-23

           Tag: African economic, Agriculture is pillar frican economic

Summary: Chatting about Africa local economy, suggested focus should be on agriculture, and specifically, the mass production of beans and rice.

Chatting about  Africa local economy,  suggested  focus should be on agriculture, and specifically, the mass production of beans and rice.

His reasoning was the demand for these products from the two fastest growing economies in the world, and the fact that agriculture is a very large employer. I am not sure of the practicalities, but the conversation made me think of what Mandivamba Rukuni had to say in Moeletsi Mbeki’s latest book, Advocates for Change.

He makes the point that, in 1956, when various African countries began to seek independence, the continent was self-sufficient, food secure and on the whole, a net exporter of food. Today, he says, that Africa is “mostly hungry and it is the most food-insecure continent”.

When one considers that nearly 75 percent of Africa’s population live in rural areas, it is easy to understand the importance of developing agriculture. Social and economic development is impossible if we don’t.

Agriculture is the backbone of the African economy, and even when it contributes very little to gross domestic product, it determines the economic fate of the majority of our people.

Unfortunately, according to Rukuni, agriculture in most countries in Africa is substantially under-performing relative to potential, and South Africa is no exception.

He attributes this, in the main, to a lack of investment in the sector in terms of infrastructure, technological and human resource development, and the sustained growth of biological and physical capital. This is due, he feels, to an unfavourable economic policy environment and lack of political will.

The distribution of land ownership is a major factor. Evidence shows that growth and natural resource management depend on the capabilities of rural communities to determine their own future.

Lack of ownership results in insecure rights, the abuse of common property and the disenfranchisement of rural people. Resolving security of land tenure and property rights issues is critical for investment, economic growth and sustainability and social upliftment.

Rukuni says the answer lies in a greater fiscal commitment to agriculture, that this will provide a more conducive policy environment resulting in much desired private sector investment. I have to agree.

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