Rising to the sound of a cockcrow, they arm themselves with nothing but a hoe, a basket and perhaps a cutlass. This is a daily routine for the typical African peasant farmer. Their hopes are the same every morning; fertile lands, thriving crops, high quality and plentiful yields, financial security, good education for the children, a better home, and a better life.
Agriculture has the potential to provide these and more to the diligent smallholder farmer, the large scale African farmer, entire countries, Africa as a continent and even the world at large. It is an undeniable fact that Africa understands her potential to feed the world but it is also glaring that her people have not entirely embraced the ticket to financial independence, which is agriculture.
Like the changes that are necessary in a child’s dietary requirements to aid growth, agriculture needs to constantly be evolving if we as a continent desire to realize financial independence. The catalyst for the evolution of anything is knowledge and to gain knowledge, research is necessary. So for agriculture in Africa to reach beyond its current state it is critical that investment in agricultural research is placed high on the agenda of African leaders.
The Forum for Agricultural Research for Africa (FARA), the apex continental organization responsible for coordinating and advocating agricultural research for development which also serves as the technical arm of the Africa Union Commission on matters concerning agriculture science, technology and innovation has taken it upon itself to coordinate and advocate for research in agriculture for the development of Africa. FARA advocates that agriculture, with the right investment, has the potential to enable any African country attain their overall development goals.
To facilitate the process, FARA believes that science, technology, innovations and appropriate policies need to be applied to the agricultural sector. The organization holds the view that in the short term, by increasing domestic public and private sector investments into agriculture, it is possible to create the enabling environment needed to nurture the growth of the industry.
While FARA has made significant progress in advocating for research in agriculture for development, there is no doubt that agricultural technology continues to evolve. There is therefore the need for continual research to ensure that agricultural practices in Africa conform to current trends.
A conscious effort must be made to phase out the prevalence of small scale farmer is gradually phasing out. Courses such as; food technology, agribusiness, environment management, offered at tertiary institutions reflect how much agriculture is gradually being shaped to appeal to young minds. With the infusion of technology and business, aspects of society this generation can easily relate to, it is hoped that the youth will find agriculture attractive and pursue it as a career.
Agriculture is now recognized as a business and FARA has supported the agri-business movement by partnering with organizations in and around Africa who through research and business want to promote its sustainability for the development of the continent.
As FARA holds its 7th Africa Agriculture Science Week (AASW) and General Assembly, during which it intends to bring all of its partners together in Kigali, the organization will also like to congratulate everyone who has contributed to the development of the agricultural sector in Africa over the years and to encourage more research within the sector to facilitate the development of agriculture and pave the way for financial independence for countries on the continent.