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State and discuss the challenges facing agriculture in Africa


State and discuss the challenges facing agriculture in Africa



Agricultural productivity is dropping in sub-Saharan Africa. For example, per capita agricultural production fell by about 5% over the last 20 years while increasing by 40% in other developing countries. As the focus of development assistance shifts towards export-led growth and state support for agriculture is progressively withdrawn, the productivity of small farmers has declined due to:

1. Climate change - The effects of climate change has been felt mostly by the farmers especially due to dependence on rain-fed agriculture. The changing and unpredictable raining seasons has greatly affected their ability to plan their farming activities. Areas which received adequate rainfall now receive insufficient rainfall reducing the land that can support agriculture.

2. Extension services- The agricultural sector extension service plays a key role in disseminating knowledge, technologies and agricultural information, and in linking farmers with other actors in the economy. The extension service is one of the critical change agents required in transforming subsistence farming to a modern and commercial agriculture to promote household food security, improve income and reduce poverty. However there is limited access to extension services in most parts of the country.

3. Use of outdated technology -Use of modern science and technology in agricultural production is still limited. Inadequate research–extension–farmer linkages to facilitate demand-driven research and increased use of improved technologies continue to constrain efforts to increase agricultural productivity as farmers continue to use outdated and ineffective technologies. This brings the need of extension services that can link research and the farmers.

4. Pest and Diseases- Pests and diseases has continued to cause a lot of losses to farmers. This is caused by lack of information by the farmers on how to control these diseases. Post-harvest losses is caused by poor handling and storage facilities.

5. Use of inputs- Most farmers lack information on the right type of farm inputs to use and the appropriate time of application of the same. The cost of key inputs such as seed, pesticides, fertilizer, drugs and vaccines is high for resource-poor farmers. Most farmers therefore do not use them. This greatly reduces the yield that the farmers get.

6. Soil nutrient deterioration- The rising population density has contributed to the subdivision of land to uneconomically small units. In addition, the reduction of fallow periods and continuous cultivation have led to rapid depletion of soil nutrients, declining yields and environmental degradation. These farmers need information on the right farming practices aimed and restoring the soil nutrient. This can be provided by extension and advisory services.

7. Poor infrastructure- Poor rural roads and other key physical infrastructure have led to high transportation costs for agricultural inputs and products. It also leads to spoilage of perishable commodities during transportation. This causes high losses to farmers.

8. Added to these are two further problems. HIV/AIDS is reducing life expectancy and the productive capacity of farming households – in the past two decades 7 million farmers and agricultural workers have died of AIDS in the most affected countries.

9. The lack of access to land and resources

10. The degradation of natural resources

11. Poor access to markets

12. Low investment in agricultural research, training and extension services

13. The lack of private sector services to fill the vacuum left behind.
francis1897 answered the question on January 12, 2023 at 12:31

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