Agriculture is an integral part of African economies, but it is faced with many challenges and requires greater investment to further the continent’s growth.
This was indicated by speakers at the Africa Brand Day Summit on October 7.
Grobank's Bennie Van Rooy said Africa had never been able to ensure that its food exports exceeded its imports, despite the fact that the continent's agricultural capacity should result in it being a net exporter.
He noted that there was an opportunity to increase food production across the continent and mentioned that there was particular demand for high-value crop exports.
However, many farmers were small-scale farmers and found it difficult to produce quality food at competitive prices.
Moreover, farmers also had to contend with fragmented market challenges, high transport costs and high cross-border tariffs and taxes, he pointed out.
He said that if this did not change, it would be very difficult for African countries to export more agricultural products to their neighbouring countries.
Meanwhile, Western Cape provincial government Minister of Agriculture Dr Ivan Meyer emphasised the importance of the agricultural sector in the Western Cape, especially in terms of the employment it engenders.
He called for more agricultural schools in the country, noting that there was a mismatch between the scope of the industry and the investment in its development.
Meyer said more young people needed to become involved in agriculture, especially given the high unemployment rate among South Africa's youth.
African Development Bank industry, agriculture, and human development regional sector manager Neeraj Vij, meanwhile, said agriculture would play a key role in the economic recovery following the impact of the pandemic and lockdown.
He called for an expansion of primary agriculture, especially in the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape, Limpopo and parts of Mpumalanga.
He indicated that there was also a need to improve land governance in the former homelands.
Vij emphasised that agricultural infrastructure, such as revamping essential water schemes, road infrastructure and electrical supply, should be prioritised.
He also noted that the ability of State institutions to attract private capital needed to be enhanced, which would alleviate the strain on the fiscus.
Moreover, he called for better local government delivery.