At face value, food security and unemployment are words that have very little in common. If you look at the words through an agricultural lens, however, similarities start to pop up.
Africa currently has two resources that are available in abundance – land, and people. With the rise in world population, there is a steady high demand for a certain commodity – food. How then can Africa make the most out of its abundant resources to fulfill a world need?
Agriculture in Africa has traditionally been viewed as a form of subsistence rather than as a means of employment. Until recently, very few people (exporters and large-scale farmers) viewed agriculture as a business. This view has however started to gradually shift and a majority of farmers (including small-scale farmers) are starting to treat their agricultural exploits as revenue generating businesses – agribusinesses.
Can Africa rely on agribusinesses to not only solve the unemployment problem in the continent but to bolster food security around the world? In my opinion, yes and information can play a crucial in making this a reality.
The role of information in agribusiness
The importance of information to any business cannot be understated. Investors in the stock exchange, for example, rely on information to determine where to invest their money. Phone companies rely on customer feedback (information) to better their subsequent models. Why should it be any different for farmers?
Before a farmer can begin preparing a piece of land for cultivation, he or she may carry out a soil test. The information the farmer gets from this soil test will determine what crops the farmer can grow and which inputs are required. Before planting, a farmer will also identify possible markets. Access to market information will assist the farmer to decide which crop(s) will bring the greatest returns. Information is the bedrock of any agribusiness venture.