Department and School: Agricultural and Bioresource Engineering; Enugu State University of Science and Technology
Food security exists when all the people at all times have both physical and economic access to sufficient food to meet their dietary needs for a productive and healthy life (Jason Bremner, 2012). The need to ensure food security in Africa is not only a basic need for human survival and existence but also crucial to ensure the nourishment of the fast growing population in Africa.
Agriculture is an age long practice in Africa with different methods and practices passed down through generations. In order to yield greater results, sustain agriculture and ultimately ensure food security in Africa, the need for agricultural innovation becomes prominent. These innovations can be new ideas, methods and devices or modifications of existing practices to yield and achieve remarkable result.
Some agricultural practices that can promote food security in Africa with the right innovations are as follows:
• Academic Awareness – The constant awareness of Agricultural benefits should be encouraged in schools, also implementation of scholarships and grants should be awarded to young Africans to study agricultural related courses. To ensure they practice, such support should be extended even after their graduation.
• Technology – African farmers need to be trained on using technological innovations to boost production. These technologies in the form of mobile phones, computers, SMS services, internet and automated machines could go a long way in forecasting, fast circulation of vital information and to reduce waste of resources in farming.
• Scientific Improvements – This could be as computer programming of machines, improvement on seed species, designing of modified storage facilities, improved pesticide and herbicides. Funds for these research works should be made available to young African scientist by governments and NGO’s.
• Extension Services – Most African farmers are rural farmers with little or no formal education, extension service workers should be used in training of these farmers on different levels as this would significantly boost agricultural production in Africa.
• Co-operative/Social Media Forum – With SMS services, co-operatives could quickly circulate important information among members and in areas with internet access, online forums could go a long way in discussion and helping fellow farmers tackle their common challenges.
• Women Participation – African women need to be fully integrated in agricultural practices as they have skills, ideas and strength to contribute.
• Improved Machineries – As more Agricultural Engineers are trained, they would work to design machines that meet the need of African farmers.
• Government Assistance – Enabling polices, financial support (grants, loans, scholarships), provision of machineries for lease, lease of land, increased funding of extension services are ways the government could use to innovate agricultural practices in Africa.
Other areas agricultural innovations could be made are in food processing methods, crops distribution, post-harvest storage, food preservatives and animal rearing.
Agricultural innovations are not only going to create food security in Africa, but would also create millions of new jobs in agriculture, reduce poverty rate, increase infrastructural developments in rural communities, increase export, create a career in agriculture for young Africans, bring economic stability and ultimately improve the overall standard of living in Africa.