Agriculture, the most important industry in Africa, has not provided adequate food security and economic well-being for the continent's population. Agricultural production per capita
and total exports declined since the 1970s, while population and urbanization increases resulted in growing demand. This inadequate performance was largely due to:
1. poor agricultural policies and management
2. poor rural infrastructure, inadequate irrigation, and limited use of agricultural inputs
3. civil strife
4. weak regional collaboration and
5. inadequate agricultural technology generation and delivery systems.
However, Africa has the potential to achieve high productivity in agriculture. This is indicated by the high rate of return (ROR) to investment in research and extension and the recent positive response to favourable agricultural policies in a number of countries, that are beginning to enhance productivity.
To bring about sustained agricultural growth throughout sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), the above-mentioned constraints must be removed by:
1. continued improvement in the agricultural policy environment
2. improvement in infrastructure (road and irrigation) and soil and water management and conservation
3. enhanced input supply and distribution systems and
4. strengthening of agricultural research and extension.
The development and utilization of profitable and environmentally-friendly technology is an essential factor for the transformation of agriculture into a modern sector. The impact of technology can be attained through the revitalization of agricultural research and extension institutions, which requires:
1. broadening the base of agricultural research clientele to actively include farmers, private-sector agents and a variety of public related stakeholders
2. adopting of a market-oriented strategic planning approach
3. improving the organisation and management to ensure accountability and transparency in planning, resource allocation and utilization, monitoring, evaluation and impact assessment
4. establishing of sustainable and consolidated programming and financing mechanisms
5. strengthening regional collaboration.