In many African nations, a large family is considered an asset, even in poverty-stricken communities. One of the reasons behind this is that many families live in farming communities and need the labor that only a large family can provide.
Even during times of struggle, farming households in Africa are often able to subsist. Some even have the potential to thrive. Sadly, current challenging times are hindering their efforts and endangering their prospects.
The African Fight Against Poverty
For decades, sub-Saharan Africa has waged war against poverty. The Covid-19 pandemic may have set these initiatives back by as much as five years. Over a billion people residing in this region are not only fighting a virus that’s unknown and deadly, but they are also fighting for essentials like food, primary healthcare, water, and homes.
Farmers are experiencing deepening levels of frustration as they struggle to deal with the global pandemic’s repercussions. Farming families and communities have the knowledge and land to farm but often lack basics like good seeds, financing, productive livestock, and a reliable market.
Agriculture Is Huge in Africa
With fertile grounds and favorable weather conditions across a wide variety of climates, Africa is a continent on which the agricultural industry can flourish. It has enormous potential to be a catalyst for growth in the coming years as the world works at rebuilding economies post-Covid. Factors to consider are:
– Most Africans have some experience with agriculture. This generates an effective labor force.
– Growth in the agricultural sector is more likely to reduce poverty than any other sector.
– Research has shown that supporting the African agricultural sector can sustainably boost the continent’s economic growth and recovery.
To make this happen, investment is a crucial element. With enough financial backing, agriculture can be a powerful springboard for rebuilding the continent after the pandemic’s devastation.
Sustainability Goes Two Ways
Unlike many of the agricultural concerns in first-world countries, African farms are not under pressure to expand to operate. In Europe and the US, averages of harvests produced and livestock raised are far higher than on African farms. However, these farmers provide an essential service to local communities and other African countries, not to mention the top-grade produce exported to first-world countries. For these valuable farmers to continue providing this service, they need help, for example:
- Access to financial backing.
- A market for their goods to be sold.
- Logistics to transport goods across borders.
- Scientific help to tackle changing conditions as the climate changes.
- Help with maintaining ecosystems and biodiversity.
- Access to agricultural innovations geared for sustainability.
The world realizes the moral, social, and economic importance of helping vulnerable African communities to deal with the threats to their means of survival. In early 2021, the Climate Adaptation Summit took place in the Netherlands, where stakeholders discussed the importance of supporting African smallholder farmers.
Only with much-needed support and financial backing will these African farmers continue to maintain the health of the continent’s ecology while generating and income and contributing to the continent’s economic viability.
Smallholder farmers played a vital role in Africa’s future before Covid-19 and are now even more critical. Only with them and help from allies in first-world countries can the continent recover from the pandemic over the short-term and ultimately cultivate resilience over the long-term.