Agribusiness! Agribusiness!! The World Bank is talking about it; the African Development Bank is talking about it; African Governments are talking about it…
Agribusiness is trending because it is popularly regarded as a solution to our economic problems. However, Africans must have a change in their perception of agriculture, which has resulted from the misconception of agriculture by majority of African inhabitants. Over the years, most Africans have viewed agriculture from an angle of mediocrity.
For agriculture to thrive in Africa there is a need for reorientation and information about agriculture; below features some misconceptions that Africans have about agriculture:
Misconception #1: Agriculture Is for People with Little or No Education
Most Africans, especially the ones not involved in agriculture, believe that farmers are illiterates and have no formal education.
Agriculturally advanced countries such as the United States of America, have proven to defy this notion; according to the college of Agriculture and Life Sciences of NC state University, nearly 30% of farmers have attained a university degree, while a growing number of that fraction are pursuing post-graduate studies. This supports a growing trend, where the number of farmers with standard education is on the increase.
Regardless, Africa has not gotten to this stage; our farming techniques, despite being passed onto generations, have not caught up with modern times and practices.
Our forefathers practiced farming as a means of feeding themselves, their families and the immediate communities, but agriculture has evolved into a business of feeding nations and building allied industries. It has become a industry for educated professionals, who have learned how to make money from the agricultural value-chain.
Misconception #2: Agriculture is a Societal Enterprise
In Agribusiness, 21st century farmers are no longer seen as ‘just farmers’ but businessmen who deal in the production of farm products, as well as processing and packaging of them. Their farms may be located in rural areas, but they live in cities, own estates and drive choice cars like other businessmen in the corporate world.
Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote is a farmer; he is the proud owner of Dangote farms. Today’s farmers see their agricultural products as a brand, which they package and wholesomely market, through clearly defined strategies.
They are profit-driven and business-minded; attending business seminars and courses, reading books and journals to equip themselves with the necessary knowledge that is needed to succeed in the sector. Their activities go beyond growing crops and raising livestock. It now includes making the highest profit with the lowest possible cost.
Misconception #3: A Farmer Only Tills the Soil and Rears Livestock
Dear reader, farming has gone beyond that; farming estates now include factories where farm produces are processed to commodities of higher economic value, with the central aim of profit maximization.
Animal farms do not only rear livestock, birds and fish anymore, as most produce sausage, yoghurt, canned meat, canned fish and powdered milk. Some make wool, hide and skin. Other farms have supermarkets where their products are sold, while others operate value-added services like home delivery on purchase.
Based on these points, it is obvious that farming has become a serious business and should be treated as such.