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Sustainable Agri-Business

agri

Agri-business is a generic term for the various businesses involved in the food production chain, including farming (both subsistence and mechanized farming), seed supply, manure, fertilizers and agri-chemicals, farm machinery, distribution, wholesale and retail sales, processing, research and development, marketing and financing of the agro-allied industry. Agri-business also includes a range of activities and disciplines encompassed by modern food production, and denotes the nexus between, inter alia, natural resource management, tourism and hospitality, innovation, mechanization, manufacturing and processing activities to add value to raw materials or cash products as well as trade and distribution.

Agri-business involves the whole value chain of the agro-allied industry covering a large range of stakeholders including farmers, co-operatives, regulators, government agencies, companies (both private and public entities), business associations, multi-national corporations, banks, multilateral institutions, civil society, and the academic body.

Sustainable agribusiness on the other hand considers the social, cultural, economic and environmental implications of agricultural production and adapts practical and ethical approaches towards maximizing the business aspect of agricultural production. It ensures that agricultural production is carried out in a sustainable way, providing jobs and food security. It also ensures that agricultural production is conducted responsibly across the agro-allied business chain, while mainstreaming good environmental best practices.

Within the African context, there are opportunities for sustained growth and socioeconomic development through sustainable Agri-business practices. For instance, Africa is endowed with enormous human and natural resources, yet it continues to struggle with poverty and inability to translate its agricultural endowment to sustainable wealth. As a result, people on the continent live in hunger, while unemployment continues to rise. This is underpinned by issues of corruption, poor governance and climate change.

Part of Africa’s agricultural woes also stems from imbalanced trade issues which provide a big challenge for local farmers in terms of the prices of commodities. The problem with the imbalance of trade is that agricultural products from local farmers in Africa are often underpriced by international buyers, thus providing low return on investment for farmers. At the same time, in the international arena, such products are worth a lot more, leading to an unfair balance of trade for the development of agricultural trade in Africa. While agriculture remains central to food security in Africa, and indeed globally; there is need for farmers, the public and private sector to look beyond food production, but rather, explore sustainable ways through which agricultural activities can support the long-term growth and competiveness of Africa.

With over 60% of the region’s labour-force coming from agricultural activities, there is need to scale-up their outputs which currently does not sustain food production, provide enough jobs or eradicated poverty in the region.

Agri-business134As the world’s poorest region, exigent measures are needed to help translate Africa’s agricultural resources into wealth, particularly by adding value to agricultural activities in order to help transform the lives of people in the continent.

Through Sustainable Agri-business activities, farmers in the region, including key public and private sector actors as well as other key players in the agri-business value chain, are able to work together to identify opportunities that will help scale-up agricultural activities in the region.

Despite the fact that agri-business in Africa is still in its infancy a lot needs to be done to leverage from the opportunities it provides. This can be achieved by developing strategies that will deal with the agricultural problems on the continent such as:

  1. lack of innovation and infrastructure to support farming and agriculture;
  2. lack of clear understanding of the role of commercial agriculture as a tool to fostering socio-economic growth in Africa;
  3. lack of added value to agricultural products through viable manufacturing and processing activities; lack of finance and investment;
  4. over-reliance on mining activities; and
  5. lack of sustainable developmental strategies that will enable farmers harness the full potential of agri-business on the continent.

Towards addressing some of these challenges; Influence Africa aims to:

  • promote scalability of sustainable agri-business programmes in Africa;
  • facilitate training and mentorship programme for stakeholders;
  • facilitate partnerships and collaboration regarding related communities of practice;
  • produce new knowledge materials e.g. film documentaries; and
  • establish and build momentum around social media campaigns.

Influence Africa is partnering with the African Institute of Corporate Citizenship (AICC) in promoting sustainable agri-business in Africa as a major leverage for attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) regarding poverty reduction. 

Here is an interesting take on the current Land Grabs issue in Africa as reported by Aljazeera: Read more... 

 

 


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