By David Lever, AGT Foods, Africa
The past month or so has vastly exposed just how vulnerable some African countries are when it comes to pulse productions and exports. I am referring to the impact the latest Indian Government policies have had on countries such as Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Sudan and Kenya among others.
These countries have heavy reliance on India for the sale of pigeon peas and whilst they do grow certain other pulse crops the biggest volumes would certainly be Pigeon peas.
The hope is that this perhaps opens up some ideas and some forward thinking so that these same farmers start to branch out and consider other pulse options. There is no doubt as to the might that India has in the pulse business, but to ‘leave all of ones eggs in one basket’ is just too risky and sadly at this point in time many African farmers will be heavily exposed. This then starts to have political, social and most certainly economic impact on the farmers and the families they support.
Recent calculations have shown that Africa has approximately 600 million hectares of arable land that is uncultivated. This is a staggering amount of land that could have an immense impact on global food security. Hasn’t the time finally arrived for industry players and stakeholders in the more developed countries to start serious collaboration in Africa?
Shouldn’t we as an industry look to start educating African farmers, provide them with options and alternatives such as beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas etc? This will then allow them at the start of every planting season to make more informed decisions as to what they will grow... By instinct they will always grow what they eat and the rest will be the cash crops we assist them with the truth is African farmers are so far removed from global markets they will always be forced to rely on the information they are given and sadly that information is sometimes manipulated to suit the buyers.
Farming is Africa is no different to commercial farming, it is all about yield and maximising the production per hectare whether you are a farmer growing one hectare or 1000 hectares.
The seed and other inputs need to be the focal point of any conversation regarding productions in Africa and until this is given the time and energy it deserves the African farmer will sadly be trailing behind the rest of the world.
African Farmers need help, they need access to Markets and they need to feel that they are getting taken care of but the rest of the supply chain who is ultimately buying from them and sadly that’s just not the case...