West African Agriculture is at a turning point. The combination of strong demand growth, sustained economic growth, higher global agricultural prices, and an improved policy environment has generated the most conducive conditions for Agricultural growth in over 30 years.
West African countries and their Development Partners now clearly recognize the sector’s vital importance for broad-based growth, food security, improved nutrition and poverty reduction. At the same time, a combination of old and new challenges ranging from climate change to increased price volatility threaten the ability of West Africans to seize these opportunities.
In view of the challenges and opportunities facing West African Agriculture, the African Development Bank (AfDB), with support from the Government of France, partnered with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to conduct a joint analytical study entitled Agricultural Growth in West Africa (AGWA): Market and Policy Drivers.
Apart from contributing immensely to the development of national economies across West African states, agriculture has become a source of passive income and sustainable retirement plan. The current state of the African economy threatens the survival of salary earners, especially as a result of inflation figures continue to reach alarming figures.
Apart from the fact that salaries are no longer able to sustain individuals and their families, another adverse effect of this is the problem that retirees are faced with as a result of the failure of the traditional pension scheme in addition to the inflation rates, which renders their pension almost useless.
Over the years, the management of pension schemes in Africa has been inundated by multiple and diverse problems arising from which retirement became dreaded by workers, especially in the public service.
One area of agriculture that has become a great alternative to the traditional pension scheme is Palm Tree Farming. Oil Palm is an incredibly efficient crop, producing more oil per land area than any other equivalent vegetable oil crop such as soybeans or coconut palms. Globally, palm oil supplies 40% of the world’s vegetable oil demand on just under 6% of the land used to produce all vegetable oils.
This makes it an efficient and profitable use of land. The economic value of palm oil translates into jobs, huge revenues, and passive income. Oil palm is a huge profitable Agric business. The profit in oil farming is huge in such a way that government agencies are also supporting oil palm growers and businesses. The agencies promote the oil palm farmers by assisting them in selling their oil palm seed produce.
Another agricultural product that has continued to provide sustainable food and income for Africans is Yam. Yams are primary agricultural commodities and major staple crops in Africa, where yam cultivation began 11,000 years ago. In West Africa they are major sources of income and have high cultural value. They are used in fertility and marriage ceremonies, and a festival is held annually to celebrate its harvest.
Yam farming is not new to the average African farmer, but more recently, its global value has been discovered. Ghana is the leading exporter of yam, accounting for over 94 percent of total yam exports in West Africa. As one of the staple crops, yam is targeted by most of the country’s general policy frame- works to boost production.
However, with Nigeria producing over 70 percent of the crop, the largest yam market in the world is found in Zaki Biam, a small town in Benue State, in the North Central. News Central Television’s Charles Erukaa visited Zaki Biam International Yam Market to feel the pulse of business there.