News / Africa

Experts: Africa Needs More Farmers, Not Aid

Development experts want more young Africans to have a stake in African agriculture like this young man in the Central African Republic. VOA/Nico Colombant
Development experts want more young Africans to have a stake in African agriculture like this young man in the Central African Republic. VOA/Nico Colombant
Nico Colombant
African and U.S. development experts say Africa needs more successful farmers.  They say an effective agricultural sector, which is not aid-dependent, is crucial both for ensuring food security as well as political stability. A two-day conference on the topic was recently held in Washington.

With Africa's booming youth population facing daunting employment prospects, University of Ghana-Legon researcher Sam Asuming-Brempong told a crowd of development experts, lawmakers and government officials in Washington, African careers in agriculture need to be promoted.

"When the youth hear of farms they already get scared. We went to a village in Ghana to survey tomato farmers and there was this one man who had made a good return on tomatoes that season. Then we said 'what next?' He said, 'I am going to look for a job in the city.' 'What about the tomato business you are doing? Is it not a job?' we asked. He said, 'no, no, farming is not a job.' We need to do something that will change the mindset of our people," said Asuming-Brempong.

Participants stressed the importance of including farming in school curriculum from the earliest age possible.

Former Mozambique President Joaquim Chissano, who now runs a foundation which bears his name, said it was also important to train future farmers in business practices.

"Training people not only to cultivate the land, to bring more productivity, but how to establish a business. That is why we used the title 'Agriculture is Business'. This is my view since the beginning, how to convert this agriculture into really a business," said Chissano.

The lead organizer of the two-day forum was the U.S.-based Partnership to Cut Hunger and Poverty in Africa. Its aim is to promote sustainable, Africa-led, agriculture-based economic activity in Africa.

Agribusiness specialist Flynn Bucy, with the U.S.-based company Innovare, said foreign governments and aid organizations trying to help with outside money, food and other assistance sometimes get in the way of these goals.

"They can be very disrupting. To give people stuff that will not let them now buy it, to distort prices, there are a lot of people who are trying to help, but part of the result of that is that it makes it very difficult for financial people to come in and make sense of it because it is not being driven by financial logic," said Bucy.

Other challenges which were talked about included soil depletion, water scarcity, massive subsidies for European and U.S. agricultural exporters and foreign governments buying up huge tracts of African land for their own needs.

Participants said the stakes were very high, ranging from ensuring nutrition security to avoiding both repeated famines and urban riots over soaring food prices.

You May Like

Multimedia Brussels Schools, Metro Reopen Under Heavy Guard

City remains under the highest threat alert level due to what authorities have described as a 'serious and imminent' threat of attack

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

UN Warns Air Pollution in Asia Pacific Has Rising Cost

Globally some seven million people a year die prematurely due to indoor and outdoor pollution with about 70 per cent of those deaths in region

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs