view of wheat 3

Why is Agriculture lagging in Africa?

19 July 2017
view of tractor in a field

There are several factors that contribute to Africa’s agriculture lagging. Factors range from a lack of transport infrastructure, knowledge not being transferred correctly and a lack of mechanisation.


South Africa’s transport infrastructure is modern and well developed when compared to other African countries. The road and rail sub-sectors are vital in the transport of agricultural commodities within the country. Its transport sector is one of the 8 key contributors to South Africa’s competitiveness in agriculture across global markets. This demonstrates how a country's agricultural development will writhe if their transport infrastructure is limited like it is in most Africa countries.


More than 4 000 knowledgeable Caucasian farmers had to hand their farms over to local Zimbabwean owners since 2000, at the order of the Mugabe government. Many of these seized farms lie uncultivated today because even though there was a transfer of land, there wasn’t a transfer of knowledge on how to cultivate that land. Zimbabwe’s agriculture has, therefore, come to a halt and the economy is suffering, while a great majority of the rural population is starving. The government have noticed their error in retrospect by not first allowing for the transfer knowledge of how to farm when the land was given to the locals, and with only 300 Caucasian farmers currently in place, a few have been issued a 99-year lease because their operations are considered as having strategic economic importance. Any land transfer done without a transfer of knowledge could suffer similar consequences to that of Zimbabwe.


The development of agriculture in Africa was high on the agenda at this year’s SIMA Paris International Agribusiness Show in France. They spoke specifically on the matters that were preventing farming in Africa from reaching its full potential. It was strongly suggested that farming in Africa lagged behind the rest of the world due to a lack of mechanisation and that there was an urgent need to reinforce institutional support for mechanisation, in line with development agendas. It was noted that 85% of cultivation on farms in some African countries was still done by hand and that, for most farmers, farming was a risky endeavour and practised on a small scale. As a result, with such low productivity, the industry could barely support these farmers and their families.

Through organisations like Agri EC, these problems are addressed and support is given, whether it is advice on transport methods, sharing knowledge on farming, various methods of developing small farmers, or helping move towards mechanisation.