HUMAN DEVELOPMENT: FUNDAMENTAL TO THE PROBLEM OF AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT AND RURAL POVERTY IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA
By Oladayo Falode
Sub-Saharan African countries are the countries that are located on the south of the Sahara desert on the African continent. Considering the calibre of countries that fall within this category and their geographical location, we can easily infer that the major source of survival of these countries is agriculture. Historically, agriculture has been the occupation of the majority of people in sub-Saharan Africa. This is because there was no other means of survival in those days than farming. Farming activities in those days were able to sustain the population then, because virtually every family had at least a farm which was cultivated and managed by the manual effort of all the family members. With urbanization, industrialization and population growth, the increase in the population which occurred on a geometric rate then surpassed the food production rate which was growing at an arithmetic rate and therefore led not only to food insecurity but to decline of agriculture as the powerhouse of the economy.
The perceived dullness and drudgery of agricultural practices (in contrast to other professions) also contributed to the loss of interest of the youths in these countries and automatically led to a drastic downfall in the agricultural sector. This drastic fall in the agricultural sector contributed to the drop in the Gross Domestic Product of these countries which then gave rise to the increase in the poverty rate that is now noticed in sub-Saharan Africa.
THE PLAN: HUMAN DEVELOPMENT
The population of a country goes a long way in affecting the economy of that country either positively or negatively. Some countries of the sub-Saharan Africa have large populations, while other countries have small, or relatively smaller, population. In all these countries, though, the population growth rate is on the increase. The population of these countries can thus be effectively harnessed to overcome the fundamental problems of agricultural development and rural poverty.
Ways of Bringing about Human Development
The various ways of bringing about human development are:
- Providing an enabling environment
- Motivating citizens
- Encouraging participation in the economy
- Promoting selflessness in all capacities
- Investment in education and training
- Promoting nationalism, patriotism and national Service
- Building team spirit
- Empowerment and introduction of the citizens into agribusiness
Creating an Enabling Environment
The governments of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa should create an enabling environment that will encourage the citizens to want to work tirelessly for the development of agriculture, and in the long run, reduce the rural poverty rate.
The enabling environment can be in form of the following:
i. Provision of the needed infrastructure for agricultural development.
ii. Setting aside of certain funds that are strictly for agriculture.
iii. Subsidizing of agricultural input.
iv. Formulation of policy that cater for agricultural programmes
v. Establishing a mechanism that will absorb the farmers’ excess produce during the period of glut.
vi. Introduction of insurance policy into agriculture in order to bail out farmers in time of trouble or failure.
These conditions stated above will go a long way in the development of agriculture and because agriculture is the major occupation of the rural people, their standard of living will be increased.
Motivation can be said to be the use of various incentives which get people to do very well — and willingly — those things that are necessary to get done. The government of these African countries that fall into this category are to provide a motivational instrument that will encourage the farmer to put in their best into agriculture.
According to Abraham Maslow, the needs of the people needed to be known so as to identify what actually motivates them to attaining self-actualization. These needs are classified into five from the lowest to the highest, and they are:
i. Physiological needs: These are hunger, thirst, sleep.
ii. Safety needs: Example of these are security, shelter, warmth, protection from danger, e.t.c.
iii. Social needs: Example of these are belonging to groups, social activities, love, friendship, e.t.c.
iv. Self expression (esteem) needs: Example of these are self respect, status, recognition, e.t.c.
v. Self-realization needs: Example of these are growth, personal development, accomplishment, e.t.c.
The knowledge of all these needs of the people living in sub-Saharan Africa by their government at various levels will actually give the government insight on how to plan any agricultural development programme that will later lead to poverty eradication in these regions.
It is important to know that motivation does not necessarily means giving money; it can come in diverse ways especially through the provision of opportunities.
Encouraging Participation in the Economy
The governments and the leaders at various levels in these sub-Saharan African countries should makes sure that there is favourable participation of the people in the economy. Special attention should be paid especially by the rural people by making them realize what the economy of the country is going to be like, if they participated favourably in the agricultural development of the country. This form of encouragement will reduce rural –urban migration which is a deterrent to agricultural development. This favourable participation will also improve the standard of living of the rural people because there will be food security and sustainability even to the extent of exporting abroad.
Promoting Selflessness in all Capacities
One of the characteristics of the less-developed countries many of which are located in sub-Saharan Africa is that they lack good leaders who are selfless across the professional spectrum. The selfishness of some of these leaders greatly affects the agricultural development that will lead to poverty eradication in these countries, because the needed funds for agricultural development are channeled into some other sector or even diverted to other, personal things because of their selfish interest.
The need for advocacy on service to humanity and selfless service should be encouraged in order to attain a greater height of agricultural development which contributes to economic development and finally improving the standard of living of both the rural and urban dwellers.
Investment in Education and Training
Education is the imparting and acquiring of knowledge through teaching and learning. As a popular saying goes, education is the key to the development of a nation because it broadens the horizon of individual.
Following this line of thinking, the government should establish and also encourage private sectors to establish out-of–school education and trainings for rural farmers, so as to make them acquire skills and learn of cutting-edge techniques that will improving their means of livelihood and thus foster agricultural development in their countries.
The education and training should also be extended to the youths even from the secondary school level so as to inculcate them with the idea of improved farming systems.
Huge investments in education will go a long way in developing agriculture and eradicate poverty in the sub-Saharan African countries.
Promoting Nationalism, Patriotism and National Service.
There is an English adage that says action speaks louder than words. The action of the citizens in sub-Saharan Africa greatly affect the country either positively or negatively.
The orientation of the sub-Saharan African citizens have to be changed from “what can I get from my country” to “what can I do for my country”, following the injunction of former US President John F. Kennedy: ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country. This orientation will make the contribution of the government to economic development, of which agricultural development is a part meaningful and have greater impact in the eradication of poverty in sub-Saharan Africa.
Building of Team Spirit
There is strength in unity. The leadership at various levels in sub-Saharan Africa should encourage and build the team spirit among their citizenries. An English adage says “two good heads are better than one”. The team spirit gives rise to continuity on any abandoned project because one’s effort will surely complement another’s, thus fostering the growth of the project as whole.
Indoctrination of Citizens into the World of Agribusiness
The citizens should be encouraged to embark on different types of agribusiness out of the long list of businesses embedded in agriculture, such as poultry business, rice farmers, cassava processing, etc. This can be brought about through the use of mass media.
FIG 1: ELECTRONIC BILL BOARD CREATING AWARENESS OF LAYER PRODUCTION
FIG 2: ELECTRONIC BILL BOARD CREATING AWARENESS OF EGG PRODUCTION
FIG 3: THE USE OF PRINT AND ELECTRONIC MEDIA TO SHOW CASE POULTRY PRODUCTION
The successful development of the humans in sub-Saharan Africa will automatically solve some of the fundamental problems of agricultural development and rural poverty in sub-Saharan Africa.
Human development, as earlier stated, is the key to fundamental problem of agricultural development and rural poverty in sub-Saharan Africa will be a success if all diverse ways of bringing about human development are adopted.
The successful incorporation of electronic media into agriculture makes the practice of agriculture easier, profitable and sustainable.
The print and electronic media have the potential to boost production in sub-Saharan Africa even to the contributing vastly to economic growth and to the growth of an export economy if greatly explored.
Oladayo Falode is a Harambe Farmland blogger and one of the 2011-2012 Fellows at the Haramabe Incubator for Sustainable and Rural Development. He is also a student of agricultural extension and rural development at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife in Osun State.