According to a World Bank study, the gross domestic product (GDP) derived from agriculture is four times more effective in addressing rural poverty than that from other sectors of the economy.
Since the government census records confirm that 70 percent of the population resides in rural areas, it is better off investing adequately in agribusiness subsector if it intends to improve livelihoods, create sustainable employment, lift the populace out of poverty, improve external and homeland security and double revenues.
The other motivation the government needs to promote agriculture is food security.
This is because studies can confirm that there is a direct positive correlation between food security and national cohesion, homeland security, economic growth, financial security, patriotism, public health, worker productivity, academic performance and general populace’s intelligence.
It, therefore, behoves the government to take practical policy measures to address the hidden bottlenecks facing the agricultural sector. For example, one of the main challenges of the sector arises from rigged markets as a result of flooding the markets with imported commodities during peak harvest season and off-season or starving the market through hoarding of commodities.
Is it possible for the authorities to promote an electronic real-time trading-floor model and regulate the market by imposing quotas of imports allocated to bona fide stakeholders, like factories, millers and manufacturers rather than merchants, for example? This will create order in the market, inspire confidence, spur economic growth, generate rural employment, reduce household poverty levels and stabilise prices, making agriculture sustainable, attractive, predictable and profitable.
It is also a big win situation for the government in power since when people are well-fed they pay attention only to real issues rather than propaganda, tend to become better citizens and mind their businesses.
They shun the city slums, therefore, the cities will be decongested and safer. They also tend to be very loyal and patriotic. Therefore, the safety of the villages is guaranteed and by extension the homeland security. There will also be fewer student and worker unrest and labour disputes.
Consequently, there will be no need to vote large sums of money for homeland security.
The accrued savings can go to infrastructure, education, research, water provision and interestingly, agriculture — this is a virtuous cycle no doubt.
Finally, a lack of coherent policies are globally recognised constraints to the attainment of food security and nutrition, therefore, agricultural trade laws need to be revamped since we have come to accept that the hidden architect of all sustainable development is the rule of law.
A case for general agricultural reforms, starting with rice, fish, sugar and maize sub-sectors, is, therefore, compelling if we are to make meaningful progress in this sector.
Let us focus on food security and the rest shall be added unto us since agribusiness ventures deliver human welfare benefits to the populace in ways not captured by typical GDP metric.
It is amazing how food security can create real harmony in our nation by decongesting towns and cities and promoting social distancing to improve happiness index.
Benjamin Kobare, Agricultural marketer, Ahero