Africa is a farm lover’s dream: abundant uncultivated arable land, roughly over half the global total; tropical climates that permit long growing seasons; a young labour force; and an expanding population that provides a readily available market for produce consumption.
Yet, African countries are yet to harness these opportunities to ensure sustainable food security and food production. The average age of farmers is about 60 years—in a continent where 60% of the population is under 24 years of age. Farmers are also less educated, with younger, more educated Africans are leaving rural areas, where farms are located, and moving to cities.
Some of these youngsters are also discouraged by the difficulties of accessing funds or land, the reliance on manual technology in smallholder agriculture, all compounded by the low and volatile profits
But to remedy these issues, a new report suggests governments should change their outlook on agriculture from a subsistence, daily activity into a commercial enterprise. The African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET) says focusing on the entire value chain of the process—land tenure, farming technology, markets, and pricing—would help transform food systems around the continent. Positioning farming “as a business and entrepreneurial endeavor” would also help draw younger people into the practice, and make them see it as less of a “cool” idea and more as a “career option.”
Former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, a commercial farmer himself, told Quartz in an interview last month that he sees agribusiness as one of the few sectors that can “create the quantum of jobs needed for Africa’s youth.”