Time for Africa to focus on commercial agriculture – Economist

organic farming

Mr Felix Ngmenkaara Darimaani, National Project Coordinator, Savannah Zone Agricultural Productivity Improvement Project (SAPIP), says Africa needs commercial agriculture to address food insecurity.

organic farmingMr Darimaani, a Development Economist, explained that though subsistence farming – an age long practice across many countries in Africa was still important, the time had come for the continent to focus on commercial agriculture.

He said for Africa to develop, it must move from subsistence to commercial agriculture to help the continent produce enough food crops to feed industry in its quest to industrialise and transform its economies.

He said this in an interview with the Ghana News Agency on the sidelines of a visit to some project sites under SAPIP and Savannah Investment Programme (SIP) in the Northern Region.

Mr Darimaani said: “Subsistence farming has been with us for a very long time and they’re still important, but for us to industrialise, we actually need the bigger players, the commercial farmers to produce in large quantities for the industry.”

He added that: “Smallholder farmers only produce for subsistence and sell the surplus, but the commercial farmer is more interested in the market than what to eat.

“Therefore, commercial farmers put in much effort to produce in larger quantities and have high productivity to feed the industry, thereby, reducing the export of raw materials.

“If we have a lot of commercial production in Ghana and Africa, then we’re working towards industrialisation, providing the raw materials for our own industry, and not exporting the raw materials to other countries,” he said.

Citing SAPIP as an example, the Project Coordinator indicated that the intervention under the Technologies for African Agriculture Transformation (TAAT), led to area production growth of 13,364 hctares in 2021 from 87 hctares in 2018.

Yield levels for maize and soybean also increased from 4.03 tonnes and 1.83 tonnes to 6.6 tonnes and 2.35 tonnes respectively, and cumulatively, farmers produced 102,675 tonnes of maize and 12,395 tonnes of soybean since 2018.

He stated that: “Currently, there have been restriction of the exportation of some food items (maize and soybean), and this presents an opportunity for our farmers to further expand, produce adequately to feed us and export other countries.”

Mr Isaac Papanko, a beneficiary of the project said: “Since the implementation of SAPIP, production has improved tremendously, and yields have also gone up. So, we have more volumes of the produce compared to 2018.”

“This is helping to close the food shortage gap, though there’s price increase in food crops especially now. The prices would have actually been higher if production had not increased.”

SAPIP, anchored on the Government’s flagship Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) and One District-One Factory (1D1F) initiatives, provides farmers with input support, including seedlings, as well as farm implements like tractors, and harvesters.

The primary aim of the project is to transform the agriculture value chain for food and nutrition security, job and wealth creation through agricultural productivity and diversification and strengthen agribusiness within the Savannah zones of Ghana.

This is to help address the challenges of agro-ecological conditions, low socio-economic indicators and historical deficit of public investment in terms of infrastructure and services.

By Francis Ntow, GNA


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