By Pomeyie Caroline – February 16, 2017
Dr. Yaw Ansu, Chief Economist at ACET, noted that Africa’s agricultural sector can drive the economy of the continent if the challenges in the sector are properly addressed.
Speaking on: “The Importance of Agriculture in Economic Transformation,” Ansu said if Africa is to better impact the lives of its people, it should increase productivity in agriculture.
He noted that other economies, such as those in East Asia, had transformed their economies mostly based on light manufacturing in a period when the United States and Europe were more receptive to exports.
This, he explained, was because the US and Europe were no longer very receptive to unlimited exports, technology was no longer labour-intensive and the World Trade Organisation reduced the room for promoting exports, thus the need to find leverage.
“We have a growing youth population, and will have more young people than in China by 2050, over half of the world’s still uncultivated, arable land and a mostly tropical weather conducive for farming” he said, adding that a big part of Africa’s industrialisation strategy had to come from agriculture.
Dr Ansu, was giving highlights of a study being conducted by ACET for the 2016 African Transformation Report: ‘Transforming Africa’s Agriculture’ at a workshop organised by ACET and the Institute of Financial and Economic Journalists (IFEJ) for members of IFEJ in Accra.
While agriculture plays a very big role in most African economies, making up about 40 per cent of economies in the 1970s, it now stood at about 20 to 30 per cent.
Most importantly agriculture employed many people in these countries; 45 per cent in Ghana and about 70 per cent in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda.
He said modernising and commercialising agriculture will not only serve as a foreign exchange earner through exports to support other imports such as equipment, but will also serve as a base for other forms of industrialisation such as cotton into textiles, or food processing.
It would also create employment by attracting more young educated people into the agricultural sector.
In order to do this however, there was the need to address challenges including land tenure systems in the country to give access to land for commercial farming.
He said while the customary land tenure system had worked in the past, the world had changed.
He acknowledged that the problem of land tenure was tricky and should be addressed with care.
“How do you ensure that, you reform in a way that does not make people destitute but at the same time give ownership title to the modern farmer for commercial use,” he said.