Development of Producers Is the Answer to Food Insecurity and Famine in Africa

The solution to food uncertainty and famine in Africa does not lie in the development of small white, black and brown subsistence farmers but in the development of fully fledge commercial white, black and brown producers.

Producers must have or get access to land, capital, labour and management capabilities as the basic production factors to produce at the optimum and maximum profit level of production. They will also have to be capable to face and survive the political and economical treats and hard times in the agricultural industry. This is the view of Fanie Brink, an independent Agricultural Economist in reaction to the extraordinary production by South African (SA) maize farmers. “The South African maize farmers this season have showed how it should be done – in terms of the efficiency of production,” says Brink, whose observations also carries an important message for Namibian maize producers.

He says the profitability and sustainability of food production are prerequisites for any country to achieve food security. There is no other way. Brink aises that the SA government will have to find room for economic policy within its overwhelming political agenda and objectives that can support and enhance food production in the country. It will also have to make adjustments to its land reform policies, minimum wages and its economic policy, both in terms of its fiscal and monetary policy. Higher economic growth must be the main objective and priority and not price stability and inflation targeting or over spending and higher debt.

The final estimate of the total maize crops from SA at the end of September for the 201314 production season is 14,3 million tonnes, which was produced on 2,6 million hectares at an average yield of 5,5 tonnes per hectare. This crop is almost just as big as the historical biggest crop in South Africa that was produced in the 198182 season of 14,4 million tonnes, and which was produced on 4,3 million hectares at an average yield of 3,4 tonnes per hectare. The average long term yield of maize has increased over time from 2 to 4 ton per hectare since the eighties compare to the average yield over the last couple of seasons, while the long term coefficient of variance around this average has declined from 30 to 25 percent.

Brink says this excellent increase in the efficiency with which the maize crop was produced this season in comparison with the 198182 season can be attributed to various important changes and adaptations.

Producers will continuously have to sharpen their price management and negotiations, as well as seriously address any price risks, price collusions on the input and output side of the industry, as well as the tendency of the government to increase the production costs by means of minimum wages, levies and taxes. The prices that farmers receive for their products against the prices that they have to pay for production inputs, the inputoutput price ratio, will still be one of the two most important drivers which will determine the sustainability and profitability of production.

New knowledge and information will still have to be created through research and technology development but it should also be disseminated much better to producers and supported to find practical application to increase the efficiency of production even further. This means that producers will still have to produce more maize with the same quantity of inputs or produce the same quantity of maize with fewer inputs as this is the only way to increase the efficiency of production.

“This is also the second determining driver that can support food production and food security for the country and must be, together with the inputoutput price ratio, the highest priority of agricultural research and development. Producers will also have to do everything possible to reduce the potential production risks in terms of the threatening impact of climate change on future production and it should seriously and actively received attention,” he concludes

Source : New Era