Department and School: Department of Biological Science; Ahmadu Bello University
Poverty and hunger is on the increase in Africa. Despite its abundant land mass and quite a large farming populace, Africa still has a high population of poor and hungry citizens. It has now become an unavoidable truth that agriculture, which is the key to poverty alleviation and the backbone of Africa’s economy, needs a lot of assistance. Notwithstanding it’s large contribution to the GNI and generation of tax revenues, the continent seems to be chasing after an agricultural ghost that will lead eventually to a dead end. How real can we get then? If land isn’t Africa’s problem then what can hold a continent so rich and blessed from breaking forth and contributing to ensure food security for the world.
60% of the farming population in Africa are small-scale farmers, with very few agricultural graduates ready to explore the sector, experts in the field neglect the field in search of white collared jobs in big firms, no one wants the stress of farming after studying for years in the university, graduates leave their knowledge on paper and subsequently, the uneducated ones are left to farm to feed themselves and sell the rest of the produce to sustain their families, but if experts will stay on the farm, upcoming smallholder farmers will be in the forefront of innovative, knowledge-intensive agriculture, so it is expedient that this trend turns around. Although knowledge in the sector is very vital to the growth and improvement of agriculture, farming implements and machineries are also very important. A lot pf people avoid farming because of its stress, very few passionate farmers still plant labor intensive crops like sesame, soybeans and melon among others. Small-scale farmers have to struggle manually with these crops, another shocking yet true challenge are neglected crops like african shea tree (vitellaria paradoxa), fonio (Digitaria exilis and Digitaria iburua), an old African cereal that very few Africans know about these days, despite its enormous dietary importance and use; it’s labor intensive though, and perhaps no hulling machine invented yet. Other neglected crops have names that are unfamiliar to the western world.
Such agricultural innovations play major roles in the sector, they’ll not only help eradicate poverty and hunger, they’ll also provide jobs for the rising population of the continent. Graduates will no longer wait to be employed by firms, but will use their knowledge on the field to secure food for themselves and the world at large. Agricultural implements that will also be invented by agricultural engineers will provide employment and help promote some of our neglected crops to the international market. Agriculture I must say is a very productive and interesting thing to do with pride, watching crops and livestock grow is a lot like parenting, and everyone knows that parenting with proper knowledge produces good children of good societal benefits, so it’s important that every African agriculturist does his quota by meticulously farming to benefit our great continent.