I remember well in my high school History class reading and learning about the Agrarian revolution and industrialization in Europe. I was young then, but I understood clearly what that meant, from farming to cottage industries to the manufacturing industries hence the European industrialization. The whole growth is a process, to enable industrialized countries. You may ask where all this is coming from but look at Africa as an example, apart from South Africa and Egypt where are we as a continent? Currently we boast of unexploited and under utilized land resources yet our very own are sleeping hungry and we host some of the worst case scenario drought and hunger stricken countries in the continent. The process is very clear: Farm——Cottage/ home industries—–manufacturing industries—equating to industrialization.
Why then would we as African countries think we can skip a process and still achieve industrialization? Zambia is one of the countries I would take as a good example for attracting growth in Agriculture. Take for example opening up new lands Mkushi, Serenje and Mongu, in Zambia, the government takes a region, make the roads, installs electricity and then calls on investors either foreign or local to invest in farming in that region. One must have a clear strategy of land utilization which if not followed then within a specific period the land reverts to the government. So far, I am yet to have such experience in another African country. We have power hungry leaders who believe in very interesting development processes. Instead of attracting investors, most African countries repel them. To be a land owner you must know someone high up in government, inflated land rates, idle land, land fragmentation, taxation, poor infrastructure and other peculiarities that are not favorable for farming as a business. These are just a few of the reasons Agriculture will never grow from its infant stage.
Looking at the bigger picture, when we loop in our governments to strategize on the growth opportunities in Agriculture, we first lose focus by the fact that Agriculture has been neglected, starting from the budgetary allocation! Its is a shame to see that even after the Maputo declaration on Agriculture and food security and signing by African heads of State, we still have less than 10% budgetary allocation towards Agriculture in more than 90% of the African countries. Only two countries so far can boast of 10% allocation i.e. Ethiopia and Rwanda and see how their economies have grown! We politic too much and forget the simple process. Enable infrastructure to enable access; enable infrastructure to attract financiers;enable infrastructure to enable trade in Agriculture. Farming, as an agricultural activity, employs over 75% of the population in Africa. Ideally, we should have 25% or less in actual farming as an activity and the rest in agribusiness. We need to find ways of porting 75% to 25%. We need to find ways of increasing the cottage industries and allow them to grow into large manufacturing industries.
The process is simple and clear for industrialization to occur:
Farm—–cottage industry—-manufacturing industry—-industrialization