Success in Agricultural Transformation: What It Means and What Makes It Happen

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And rural transformation does not just happen; it must be made to happen. In the following pages, I will summarise examples of successful smallholder agribusiness projects or enterprises where IFAD was a major partner. I will be happy to answer questions and provide more information on successful cases in other African countries.

I will conclude by drawing lessons from my experience which span four decades of professional work in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America. From the foregoing discourse, my proposition is that Nigeria has both the potential and the opportunities to transform its rural sector from zones of economic misery into zones of economic prosperity.

Where has this happened before? Earlier in this paper we argued the case of transformative changes that occurred in the last Century in China, India, Brazil and South Korea. Agriculture was key but so also was the role of government and the right investment choices in rural infrastructure, policy, education, health etc. Details can be provided by IFAD. But so also here in Nigeria, we have success stories from organised rural enterprises. I will give brief summaries of three of them. The first is an on-going programme. It has turned out to be very successful and is exemplary of the potential of rural areas to become successful and viable economic entities.

In the crop season, farmers produced MT of rice at an average of 4. Other outcomes of this project have been that it served as a pilot for the Agricultural Transformation Agenda ATA of the previous administration of which the Staple Crops Processing Zones was one of its components.

It catapulted Nigeria to become the largest cassava producing nation in the world. Companies like Unilever, SaabMiller and others contracted farmers for their produce. Unfortunately, the Federal and State governments did not give much consideration to value addition, processing and marketing aspects. Products from cassava can be used in composite flower for bread and pastry, bio-fuel, animal feed, industrial starch; sorbitol as a substitute for yeast and much more.


A major outcome of this project was the development of strong community development associations that evolved into strong and cohesive governance structures and were described as the Fourth Tier of Government by the northern states. It built and strengthened rural governance structures that generated a sense of trust and confidence in rural communities.

From my experience, a one-size fits all proposition is already flawed. Context and content must drive every effort at rural transformation. Change does not just happen but must be made to happen. This is no rocket science. However, certain lessons can help explain the paradoxes that have characterized the Nigerian story.

When tailored to context and informed by experience, the relevant pieces begin to come together. Think BIG, act small and let it grow! Proposition 1 : Agriculture, irrespective of size or scale, is a business, a money-making venture. Farming, whether of crops, livestock or fisheries, is not just a way of life; it is an economic activity that produces food, feeds people, creates jobs and employment, brings wealth, empowers and transforms people.

It is the pathway to sustainable development. This calls for a major shift in our mind-set. Farmers, whether small or big, must be seen as agri-business entrepreneurs and the business of smallholder farmers as rural enterprises. They must be seen as the largest group of private investors in agriculture with the same rights and access to resources as big farm owners and companies. Proposition 2 : Development must start from within.

Development is not something we do for or to others. Development is something people do for themselves; rooted in their own soil. It is an internal process, it starts from within. This is a pivotal recognition which stimulates and generates action and growth. This is what Brazil, China India and Korea did. They were not transformed by ODA.

They invested in their own people, in rural development and in sound policies; in education and health and in social protection. They saw agriculture as pivotal to their development; they saw the nexus between rural and urban areas and invested in both. And above all, they invested in their people and in good governance! Without good governance our efforts at development will always remain crippled. Poor governance results in mediocrity, weak institutions, blatant corruption, inconsistent policies and dysfunctional societies.

Proposition 3 : If we do not resolve the increasingly volatile youth unemployment challenges by engaging the youth in agriculture, our rich demographic dividend will in no time become a demographic time-bomb. Proposition 4 : The finance structure for agriculture should also be improved. The formal financial sector needs to be more innovative and less risk averse. Proposition 5 : The power of aggregation should be optimized through building and supporting smallholder associations, groups and cooperatives. Successful models exist in Nigeria and elsewhere to learn from.

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Their ability to aggregate, negotiate fair price, have access to markets are vital for the survival of their business and a transformation of mind-set. These are precursors to rural economic empowerment. A primary prerequisite is an enabling policy environment, continuity and consistency in policy structure and implementation, not changing from one administration to another or from one political leadership to another.

‘Farmers are also entrepreneurs’

A policy environment that is an incentive to private sector investment, particularly for the domestic private sector. Proposition 7 : The role of government is not to grow food or to import it but to create the enabling environment for producers, buyers and consumers to prosper. Good governance, informed policies, durable basic infrastructure, maintenance of rule and order are as important if not more, as winning an election. These are the basic ingredients for lasting development.

Proposition 8 : None of the above can be done by one individual alone, by one institution or by one Ministry alone. Water scarcity is an issue that can be overcome by adopting climate-smart technologies such as micro-irrigation. There are several precision agriculture investment opportunities available to the private sector, including agricultural extension via digital advisory services, drip irrigation, solar pumps, and crop and soil monitoring.

Existing and developing technologies will have a major role in food production and food security in emerging markets. This must be achieved while preserving natural resources and that is why sustainable agricultural mechanization SAM will be fundamental to the process. SAM is climate-smart and environmentally benign and essentially means no-till conservation agriculture, which requires specific mechanization inputs.

Principally, these are seeders and planters capable of penetrating soil surface vegetative cover to deposit seed and fertilizer at the required depth and spacing; and equipment for management of cover crops and weeds. Mechanization is required not only for crop production, but also for processing and along the entire value chain. Mechanization inputs are usually expensive and so specialist service provision will be the indicated way forward. Precision agriculture is not exclusive to the modern, western farmers.

Smaller farmers in West Africa can also use precision agriculture to improve their harvest and labour productivity. This was revealed by a publication of the Wageningen agroecologist Ken Giller together with international colleagues. Farmers in the semi-arid part of West Africa have to deal with poor plant growth, varying precipitation, low soil fertility and a lack of labour, and they have little money and resources to solve these problems.

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That is why they benefit from cultivation measures that make efficient use of the available resources and diminish the risks of poor harvest. Precision agriculture can help the farmers improve their production, write the researchers in the journal Agronomy for Sustainable Development. Seasonality in the production of most agricultural produce and lack of on-farm processing for value addition lead to minimal returns for the farmer, culminating in a situation where the majority of the farming households fail to break-even in most seasons hence forcing them to live in abject poverty and face critical food security challenges as alluded to by FAO, A questionnaire aided by individual household interviews was used to generate data from the respondents.

Data obtained was subjected to grass margin and product net-value analysis as well as descriptive statistics for purposes of presenting findings. The study revealed that farmers were against the notion that they remain producers of raw materials for industries located elsewhere; they felt that their integration in to the production chain as manufacturers would agitate the aggregation of a robust agricultural system which is cost effective and a necessity for sustainable and self- financing rural agriculture.

Value chain financing: evidence from Zambia on smallholder access to finance for mechanization Enterprise Development and Microfinance , March Such farmers are regarded as not creditworthy and furthermore their agricultural productivity could be improved. The aim of this paper is to present recent evidence on value chain financing VCF as a framework to increase access to agricultural finance for Zambian smallholder farmers.

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Such financing will act as an enabler to mechanize and, in turn, might improve productivity. Qualitative data collection techniques were followed to provide the results as presented in three illustrative case studies. Each case study highlights the benefits of financing, using the value chain framework, but also emphasizes certain challenges and risks associated with the approach. Although two of the three VCF programmes have been discontinued, they still provide useful learning points: for instance, commercial banks should assign more resources to manage the VCF products; and the risk should be shared between all the VCF participants.

Africa is the only region in the world where agricultural productivity has been largely stagnant since s. Average cereal production in Africa stood at 1. Experiences in some developing countries of Asia and Latin America show that agriculture could be transformed into progressive commercial industry.

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Investment in agricultural machinery has enabled farmers to intensify production and improve their income and quality of life. In countries such as India, China, Brazil and Turkey, the rapid expansion in farm machinery demand has stimulated the growth of local machinery manufacturing. The same development could happen in Africa, if farmers could intensify their activities through greater mechanization. This would lead to increased input use, higher food production, enhanced food security and reduced dependence on imports.

This background paper looks at agricultural development and mechanization with a particular focus on West Africa. It describes the evolution of agricultural mechanization and discusses the major drivers and issues, followed by a look ahead. This paper is specifically about agricultural mechanisation: the opportunities provided by mechanisation for intensifying production in a sustainable manner, in value addition and agri-food value chain development, as well as the inherent opportunities implied for improved local economies and livelihoods.

The establishment of viable business enterprises agro-processors, transport services, and so forth as a result of increased agricultural mechanisation in rural areas, is crucial to creating employment and income opportunities and, thereby, enhancing the demand for farm produce. Mechanisation plays a key role in enabling the growth of commercial agri-food systems and the efficiency of post-harvest handling, processing and marketing operations, and as such can be a major determinant in the availability and accessibility of food, the food prices paid by urban and rural poor, as well as contributing to increased household food security.

Mechanization covers all levels of farming and processing technologies, from simple and basic hand tools to more sophisticated and motorized equipment. It eases and reduces hard labour, relieves labour shortages, improves productivity and timeliness of agricultural operations, improves the efficient use of resources, enhances market access and contributes to mitigating climate related hazards. Mechanised agriculture essential in Sub-Saharan Africa bizcommunity. According to a new report from FAO, mechanisation and appropriate mechanisation strategies have a large role to play in improving agriculture productivity, particularly in Africa, in order to feed the growing world population.

Agricultural mechanisation: A key input for Sub-Saharan African smallholders underlines that agricultural mechanisation in the twenty-first century should be environmentally compatible, economically viable, affordable, adapted to local conditions and, in view of current developments in weather patterns, climate-smart. Mechanisation covers all levels of farming and processing technologies, from simple and basic hand tools to more sophisticated and motorised equipment.

It extends far beyond ploughing and can contribute to productivity gains and new jobs in the post-harvest, processing and marketing stages of local and global food systems. Southern African farmers know a lot about climate change due to the worsening drought conditions they face. But, according to agriculture and development researchers, these farmers lack the resources to put solutions that work into place. That is in part because government agricultural extension services, which offer training and advice to farmers, have too few agents, states a report by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation, based in the Netherlands.

In many cases, farmers are simply not aware of potential solutions, said Oluyede Ajayi, a senior programme coordinator with the centre, speaking on the sidelines of a meeting in Johannesburg on scaling up climate-smart agricultural solutions.

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Cornelia Flatten sees herself as a farmer for the rest of her life. My dream is to grow this farm and transform it to improve efficiency by acquiring at least two milking robots. And with the world population set to increase to over nine billion by , production is expected to increase by at least 60 percent to meet the global food requirements—and must do so sustainably. This limits the potential of agriculture in the region. Mechanisation can help to alleviate food shortages and enhance agricultural development. However, this implies high levels of investment for farmers and some risks for rural populations and eco-systems.

The necessary financing is especially difficult to access and risky for longer-term agricultural investments such as mechanisation. In addition, there can be trade-offs between mechanisation and employment. To better understand how mechanisation an contribute to food security, this study first assesses the controversial impact of mechanisation on rural populations and their environments. The set of policies and practices that are identified, if brought to scale, could have a significant impact on agricultural transformation in Africa.

Through an increased role of the private sector, an emphasis on research and skill development and the creation of village mechanization centers, the government emphasizes its commitment to rapidly mechanize its agriculture value chain. In Rwanda, from to , average agricultural output grew by more than five percent, while the average annual machinery growth rate was almost three percent. What did Rwanda do differently? What did it take to mobilize government at the cross-ministerial level? How did buy-in from local organizations and government happen?

How funding mobilized to achieve the goal?