Is African agriculture sustainable enough to support an agro-allied industrial development strategy? Evidence from Ghana and Nigeria
This paper (PDF) published by Allegheny College provides an overview of the meaning and conditions under which an agro-allied industrial development strategy in Africa could work. The notion of an agro-allied industrial development strategy in Africa presupposes the existence of a vibrant and sustainable agricultural sector. The authors suggest that this assumption may be too heroic and unrealistic. Although agricultural production on the continent rose by an annual average of 2% between 1965 and 1980 and has continued to increase by 1.8% annually since, population growth of 2.9% per year has resulted in a per capita decline in agricultural production. From self-sufficiency in food production before the 1960s, many African countries have become net food importers, with a handful of them facing severe food shortages arising from drought, desertification, climate change and wars. The authors argue that soil conditions, climate change, and population growth, in combination with ineffective economic policies, have contributed immensely to the sordid state of agriculture in Africa. Historical and contemporary evidence from Ghana and Nigeria are used to show how economic policies have interacted with biophysical and environmental factors to generate an unsustainable use of land, agricultural labor, and natural resources. Based on this the authors propose an “agro-entrepreneurial” model of agriculture that combines sustainable farming practices with entrepreneurship. This model enables farmers to take advantage of emerging markets in the food value chain, as well as enhance their living standards and self-esteem.