Africa holds more than 60% of the world’s uncultivated arable land; the continent’s share in global agricultural production remains low. Vast areas of land are uncultivated and productivity remains lower than in much of the rest of the world. Nevertheless, agriculture is critical for the majority of African economies and accounts for at least 15% of the continent’s GDP. In addition, around two-thirds of the African population is employed within the sector, the vast majority working on small-scale farms that currently produce around 90% of all output.
Despite its strategic importance and advantage, agriculture is starved of necessary investment. Many African governments devote less than 1 per cent of their budgets to agriculture. Not only have overall donor aid levels declined, but donor priorities have simultaneously shifted away from agriculture toward other sectors.
Furthermore, chronic long-term underinvestment and poor governance have resulted in a sector that has been unable to play a positive role in transforming the continent’s economies, either by ensuring food security, creating jobs or reducing poverty. African agricultural productivity growth is about half of that seen in other developing nations.
Meanwhile, the continent continues to face growing challenges, of which climate change is anticipated to be the most serious, with millions of farmers and households already being directly affected. Experts have called for African governments to increase investment in agriculture, including in infrastructure, while also supporting the development of agri-business. These changes could help the sector to play a truly transformative role in supporting Africa’s successful long-term economic development. With Africa’s population expected to double by 2050, meeting consumption demand will continue to depend on global markets and imports over the medium term.
However, despite the challenges faced, prospects for Africa’s agricultural sector are relatively positive. UN institutions expect cultivated areas to expand and farmers to increase productivity, through greater use of technology and improved inputs. According to the “Agriculture Outlook 2018-27” report from the OECD and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the sector will undergo robust growth, with crop production in sub-Saharan Africa projected to rise 30% between 2018 and 2028. Moreover, greater access to innovative technologies is expected to support the development and application of smart and precision farming techniques.
From Nigeria, AIP BOESS, an umbrella organization for a number of integrated and diversified companies that muster food, agricultural commodities as well as agricultural industrial solutions to drive Africa’s strategic thrusts in agriculture, is in the forefront of the agriculture revolution in Africa, particularly in Nigeria. AIP BOESS creates commercial enterprises within the value chain of human existence, and these flourish on the premise of sustainability, new vision and technology that adds aces and premium to the strategic sector of agriculture.
In furtherance of its mission of creating food security and delivering on what it terms as its mandate of ‘A New African Story on Agriculture’ (ANASA), AIP BOESS recently organized a trade mission to Murcia, Spain considered as one of the most advance technological hubs in Europe, and a place that shares similar topography with Nigeria. The trade mission, led by Michael Kadiri, Titilola Ijimakinwa and Santiago Zubiaga of AIP BOESS, included entrepreneurs from Nigeria’s agriculture sector. The delegation held resourceful meetings and engagements, established commercial links and signed agreements with key European companies, especially those active in sustainable horticultural and aquaculture technologies.
The Nigerian delegation visited Agritech Murcia, an umbrella of 16 associated companies, including Ritec and Azud (irrigation and climate control), Novagric and Rufepa (greenhouse manufacturers) and Symborg (innovators), amongst others. Aside this, Agritech which co-facilitated the mission also organized an institutional welcome event at the Scientific Park of the University of Murcia, and this drew over 20 companies that are strategic key players in the business of agriculture in Europe.
Whilst in Spain, the Nigerian delegation also visited Tilamur, an innovative company dedicated to aquaponics and sustainable development strategy. In their facilities, the delegation were shown different food solutions and how the company has been able to deploy technology, in overcoming the challenge of water scarcity, to practice aquaculture, an innovative agricultural method in arid areas, as is the case in the region of Murcia. There were also visits to agri-business concerns like Gaysa, Hidroconta, Huete, Hydroponic Systems and Econex, amongst others
Determined to build on the success of its first mission to Murcia, Spain, AIP BOESS is finalizing plans on a second trade mission that will be in Murcia, Spain between 18th and 26th September, 2021. The trip is open to state commissioners of agriculture, permanent secretaries in ministries of agriculture and rural development, interventionist agencies, officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Bank of Agriculture (BOA) and Bank of Industry (BOI). There will also be heads of agric co-operatives, agric desks of banks and logistic companies, senior executives of food production companies, agriculture and farming Companies, SMEs, as well as entrepreneurs interested in agriculture business.
The delegation is expected to visit different organisations and facilities involved in Farming and Food production, Aqua and Fishery, Solar, Green House and Urban Farming, and Machinery for Farming and Food production. While there, they are expected to see, study and understand new products and solutions to help advance different agriculture businesses and engagements. There will also be a special presentation by AIP BOESS’ partners on how to access European Union’s (EU) grants and funding for agriculture.
Africa’s agricultural transformation requires a new approach that is value chain specific and farmer-allied intermediary anchored that better aligns and coordinates key actors, targeted outcomes, and types of capital. The overall investments in agriculture need to be drastically increased if Africa is to pull out of its present agricultural crisis. These initiatives and interventions by AIP BOESS may be happening in the middle of the global coronavirus pandemic, but they are serving as fundamental springboards for more strategic initiatives that will significantly alter the narratives about agriculture in Africa in the years ahead.