Sunday, July 11, 2010

Training the next generation of African farmers is imperative

A South African farmers’ group, Agri SA, has received invitation from several African countries, including Egypt, Zambia, DR Congo, Sudan and Mozambique, to invest in agriculture to produce export crops.

According to Agri SA, Sudan has made land available in the upper Nile Delta, where they focus on sugar production. Egypt is inviting more South African farmers to go and start growing fruits. Mozambique, they are offering us land to grow sugarcane for biofuels. Zambia was also offering land for growing maize.

The heart these land deals Congo’s plan to improve food security by allowing South African farmers to lease land for up to 105 years to grow maize, soya beans as well as for poultry and dairy, will be one of the biggest land agreements on the continent

China is keen to explore agreements over joint investment ventures with Agri SA in agriculture on the African continent. China wants to create a market for their chemicals and equipment manufacturing.

Potential financiers for infrastructure are also seeking commitment of the South African farmers that they will invest in some African countries before they release funds to invest in roads, dams and energy.

The white South Africans are providing technical capacity while China is bringing the machinery and the infrastructure. This is interesting! Where are local African farmers? What can we learn from this?

Its is clear that white South African farmers have what African farmers lack; technical know how for modern agriculture.

I think Africa must invest in the education of the next generation of farmers and equip them with the knowledge and technical skills. Investment in extension services, farm inputs and access to micro credit is certainly not adequate.

See full story in Reuters July 9, 2010

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