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For the longest time, agriculture has been seen as a development activity or as a necessity. In fact, agriculture is not a popular choice for many career-wise because they believe that there is no money in agriculture.
Last month, hungry Filipino farmers protested, asking for free vegetable seedlings and financial subsidy at the height of El Niño at Kidapawan City, Philippines.
In Nigeria, poverty is one of their major problems. Although 75% of the rural residents are hardworking farmers, they are still facing scarcity. The sad part is they do not lack food, resources or manpower. They lack the money to procure a small piece of land to farm or to operate food production.
In a sense, you might agree with the majority that there is indeed no money in agriculture. But some of the most influential people in agriculture believe otherwise.
Mr. Takashi Sumi, President, and CEO of AFC is an example of a person who found success in agriculture in the form of fertilizer. AFC or Atlas Fertilizer Corporation is the first and the oldest operating fertilizer company in the Philippines.
According to him, “Farming must not only be regarded as a vocation or a calling but more importantly as a stable family business.”
Despite facing financial difficulty and joint ventures in the 90s, AFC currently controls more than 42 percent market share. They owe part of their success to the local farming communities that they have worked with in terms of improving crops and increasing yields.
Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, Vice President of Ghana, felt the same way. He said, “Agriculture should be seen as a business.”
Right now, the Ghanaian government is promoting the agricultural sector to attract more investors. Their objective was to develop a number of initiatives and incentives to motivate people and firms in the sector.
He, along with President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria, President Thomas Yayi Boni of Benin and President Joyce Banda of Malawi participated in an investment forum supported by GrowAfrica, an African-owned inclusive platform which aims to unlock the potential of African agriculture through private sector investment.
GrowAfrica has seen how private sector investments created economic opportunities for small-holders and improved food security. In fact, their partners mobilized over $3.5 billion in new investment commitments in 2012.
Another supporter of this belief is Mr. Akin Adesina, President of African Development Bank. He said that “Agriculture is a business. And the more we treat it as a business, as a way to create wealth, the more it will promote development and improve people’s lives to boot.” He also believes that to treat agriculture like a business is to get the private sector more involved in it.
With these testimonies, we can conclude that agriculture is not a dying business. There is a huge potential waiting for us to unlock it.
Apart from funds from public and private sectors to acquire necessary technologies to improve food production, collaborating with smallholder farmers and introducing innovative farming techniques is also vital to agricultural success. Farm owners should also learn new ways to manage and invest funds to grow their business to its fullest potential.
Remember, food is human’s most important basic need. As long as there are humans, the demand for food like rice and other crops will always be there. Let us take this opportunity, not only to feed the world but also to create sustainable, progressive and wealthy nations.