Chief Economist and Vice-President at the African Development Bank (AfDB), Celestin Monga, has demonstrated the link between industrialisation and agricultural revolution and recommended that technology and innovation are needed to drive agricultural revolution in Africa.
Monga stated at the 5th KOAFEC Ministerial Conference in Seoul, South Korea that modern day industry would not have been possible without the agricultural revolution that preceded it, adding that economies in which agriculture was stagnant did not show industrial development.
The Chief Economist said that the low levels of mechanization on the continent, as well as poor utilization of modern inputs and other forms of agriculture technology have inhibited growth of agriculture.
Statistics have shown that many countries have fewer than 20,000 tractors in use per 100 square kilometres of land. In the same vein, there is limited adoption of modern inputs such as fertilizers, improved seeds, and agro-chemicals, with majority of countries using less than 80 kilograms of fertilizer per hectare of arable land.
President of Korea Eximbank Duk-Hoon Lee, recounted the Korea shared lessons of how it revamped its agriculture sector using improved technology and innovation, coupled with mechanised farming. As a country which experienced rice shortage of up to 20 percent in the 1950s and early 1960s, and which relied on the United States for food aid in the 1950s, Korea’s new methods of transformation saw it turnaround its agriculture, significantly improving rice production.
“With technological innovation, Korea developed a new rice variety in 1966. This resulted in increased rice production, 80 percent higher than the average yield of a Korean farmer before the technology. The country achieved self-sufficiency of rice in 1977. Its national average yield per 10 acre piece of land in 1977 was 494 kilograms; higher than the world record of 447 kilograms per 10 acre set earlier by Japan ,” President of Korea Eximbank added.
African Ministers present at the forum expressed confidence about the potential for the transformation of Africa’s agriculture, saying: “If Korea did it, so must Africa.”
They acknowledged the need for training and capacity building of youth in modern agriculture methods, citing the importance of agriculture in employment creation.
Eugene Wamalwa, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Water and Irrigation said “there is a youth bulge in Africa. We need to make agriculture interesting and encourage our youth to venture into agriculture.”
Daily Times gathered that the AfDB’s “Jobs for Youth Initiative” is expected to create 25 million jobs by 2025, while among other things, the initiative puts special emphasis on the agricultural sector.