Agriculture remains one of the leading sectors in Africa’s economy and a source of income for over 60 per cent of the population in the continent. Growing population translates into a higher demand for food security thus the need for improved productivity. During the 19th and early 20th century, agriculture in Africa was faced with many challenges such as land conflicts, lack of human capital, pest and diseases, and harsh weather conditions. These difficulties hindered agricultural development and fostered food insecurity.
Agricultural transformation can be boosted by political will and commitment through active and consistent government participation in streamlining agricultural policies towards supporting and encouraging citizen participation in agricultural productivity. These interventions should be complemented by creating favorable conditions, and provision of extension services encompassing training of smallholder farmers who are the majority in Africa.
In line with Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) towards the eradication of extreme hunger and poverty, agriculture has been undergoing a series of changes in order to create employment, adapt to the changing weather conditions and increase productivity among other objectives. In order to realize these objectives, financial commitment plays an integral role in transforming agriculture. Development partners and other stakeholders should commit resources to speed up transformation. One of the agricultural transformation strategies includes the adoption of agribusiness with the aim of commercializing agriculture to increase production and income. The African Development Bank (AfDB) has put up a huge agricultural investment for the period of 2011-2015 by channeling US$612 million per year towards agriculture and agribusiness. Another notable investment is the launch of US$280 million partnership for inclusive agricultural transformation in Africa, a commitment by donors and partners towards the financing transformation of agriculture.
Climate change is another factor driving agricultural transformation. Agriculture accounts for about 14% of the greenhouse gas emissions. A major contribution to this includes agricultural land use activities such deforestation, poor soil and water management. These and other poor practices leave agriculture highly vulnerable to climate change. As a measure to combat climate change impacts, farmers need to adopt new methods of farming in order to make farming more climate change resistant and increase their farm production. These methods include sustainable land and water management, climate-smart agriculture among others.
Transformation of agriculture in Africa should be guided by defined strategies that can enable small-scale farmers to adapt to the changing climate and completely change the way farmers carry out their farming. The changes should encompass efforts to strengthen resilience, restore degraded ecosystems and adoption of organic farming.
Africa’s potential in feeding itself also rests on the ability to incorporate women and involve them fully in agriculture. This calls for an overhaul of the agricultural system to foster gender inclusivity in production. Women in Africa contribute to almost half of the labor force, incorporating them fully will help reduce poverty and create sustainable employment.