Technologies and models for Sub-saharan Africa development
Development of the agricultural economy in Sub-saharan Africa could stabilize the African continent and meet food requirements as well as maintain agricultural communities on their lands of origin to help stop the flows of migration to Europe. An international conference held at Agrilevante shed light on the problems and potential
Mechanization can greatly help the development of agriculture in the Sub-saharan countries of Africa to provide a solution to the problem of malnutrition and reduce the flow of migrants to Europe. The conditions for these efforts require calibrating them to the real needs of local farmers and avoid unsuitable technologies difficult to manage. This is one of the points brought up during the conference The Agricultural Economy and Political Stability: A Challenge for Africa and the Mediterranean organized by FederUnacoma, held in Bari in the Agrilevante trade fair and moderated by an Italian public radio and TV, RAI, journalist, Attilio Romita.
At the conference, FederUnacoma President Alessandro Malavolti declared, “For a number of years serious political and economic problems have emerged leading to open warfare as a cause of great instability and uncontrolled migration in Sub-saharan Africa, also in Syria and Turkey, and created especially serious conditions in Sub-saharan Africa where 22.5% of the population suffer from malnutrition. And yet the physical and climatic features of these territories are of special interest for the development of agriculture. However, rather than building barriers in Europe, we have to force ourselves to favor these countries with the creation of wealth as a reason for the lives of their populations.” Real potential surfaced for eleven of these Sub-saharan countries in a targeted special survey conducted by Nomisma and presented at the conference by Denis Patini and Stefano Baldi. Luigi Bodria from the Club of Bologna noted that this potential must be activated with consideration of the “need for structured interventions to allow the permanent populations to remain in their places of residence.” He went on to say, “The development driver has to be agriculture and the mechanization necessary but according to the real local needs and accompanied by a professional training plan, the availability of spare parts, maintenance and credit for purchases.” Joseph Kienzle from the UN FAO, Food and Agriculture Organization, referred to integrated strategies for each of these countries, “in territories where the farming workforce is made up mainly of women, the land is sometimes sandy, worn away by superficial plowing, not very fertile and where climate change leads to drought and desertification.” Maroun El Moujabber, the science administrator at the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Bari, CIHEAM, spoke on the dissemination of technical and scientific knowledge through training by qualified teams and said his institute has been conducting research for the past ten years. He urged FederUnacoma take on “active participation in research projects which support fallout to apply for African country partners.” Furthering a more active presence which include investments in agriculture and agricultural research in each of the countries was discussed by Glynne Michelo, the first economy secretary at the Italian embassy in Zambia, Sabri El Dobakrit, the Deputy Minister for Agriculture in Sudan and Essam Wasif, the director of the Egyptian Ministry for Agriculture Agrarian Engineering Institute. Leonardo Di Gioia, the Puglia Region commissioner for agriculture addressed the conference on an initiative “precisely in the spirit of Agrilevante which is a platform for products, ideas and availability for the very real development of agriculture in the Mediterranean and African countries.” Italian Plenipotentiary Minister Giuseppe Mistretta noted at the close of the conference work that Italy is a natural bridge for trade not only for the economy and commerce but also for technologies and cooperation between Europe and Africa and that this role can be played effectively if work is synchronized for priorities and the development plans drawn up by the African countries. Mistretta also referred to consideration of the questions raised by these countries all together to handle economic resources, the human factors as well as variable policies and the environmental and climatic characteristics of the area.
African agriculture, a feasible challenge
Sub-saharan Africa is ranked at the bottom of the world economic and social conditions atlas. The GDP of the entire area is below that of Italy and accounts for only 2% of global pro-capita GDP at $3,400 annually, well down compared to world average of $15,000 and incomparable for that of the United States at $52,000. Moreover, the level of malnutrition of the Sub-saharan Africa population is reported at 22.7%. Sub-saharan agriculture is substantial, accounting for 18% of GDP compared to 1.1% in the U.S. and 1.5% in Europe, but productivity is extremely
low and lacks efficiency. Data on Total Factor Productivity, TFP, disclosed that average Sub-saharan Africa growth in the 2001- 2013 period came to a mere 0.6%, well below the example of the Asian area at plus 2.6%. The delay of development of this African region is obvious and this is the gap which draws special interest in the region as regards investments and development programs. The production and agro-food systems must of course evolve to close the gulf between them and other economies, a process which could be set in motion in a relatively short time. These are the data which surfaced from a specific survey completed by Nomisma for the Bari exposition and presented at the conference on The Agriculture Economy and Political Stability, A Challenge for Africa and the Mediterranean. This survey covered the critical factors of the area, Nigeria, Eritrea,
Guinea, the Ivory Coast, Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana, Sudan and Zambia. Other than analyses of productivity, farmlands and the choice of crops raised in these countries, also taken up was an in-depth study on categories of the
fundamental mechanization factors for the development of the primary sector. The machinery inventories are generally very scarce with outstanding exceptions such as Kenya and Zambia indices of 251 and 209 tractors for 100,000 hectares, figures
which drop drastically for Nigeria and Uganda and even lower levels for Ghana and Ethiopia with 40 tractors per 100,000 hectares.