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Entrepreneurship in Agricultural Communities of Africa

Submitted by AFAM on Tue, 08/18/2020 - 11:43pm

Guest editor:
George Acheampong
University of Ghana Business School
RT 3, UGBS Main Campus, Volta Road, 
University of Ghana, Legon-Accra, Ghana

The majority of Africans live in the bottom of economic pyramid (Acheampong and Esposito, 2014). This has contributed to the prevalence of hunger and malnourishment in much of Africa that has persisted from 2010 and worsened in recent times (Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 2018). The prevalence of undernourishment in Africa is approximately 22.8% which is about 12% worse off from the global average of 10.8%. In terms of food insecurity, about 53.1% of Africans face food insecurity and 22% worse off from the global average of 25.4% (United Nations, 2019). The worsening situation has been driven by adverse climatic conditions, locust invasions, conflicts, high population growth rates in Africa and difficulties in the global economy. Food production would need to increase considerably to meet rising demand. This has had severe repercussions because much of Africa’s farmers operate in smallholder agricultural communities.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) notes that agriculture has a significant role to play in Africa (IFAD, 2014). They note that agriculture contributes to 30% of GDP of African economies and 60% of Africans work in agriculture. Again, less than 10% of the African land surface has been cultivated and smallholder agriculture communities use less fertilizers compared to farmers operating in other continents. In lieu of this, the FAO (2020) has noted that there are several opportunities for entrepreneurial-led growth in the agricultural sector in Africa especially in smallholder communities in rural environments. These opportunities are expected to be driven by growing African food markets, availability of digital platforms and shifting demographics.  The Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa also note that agriculture is a proven path to prosperity and remains Africa’s surest bet for growing inclusive economies and creating decent jobs mainly for the youth (AGRA, 2017). However, this transformation has to be market-driven with a business agenda and not just a focus on production. This will entail transforming smallholder farming communities into small commercial farming entities.

However, academics urge caution with this meta-narrative from policy-making institutions. Diao et al. (2010) indicate that Africa will face several new challenges that were not faced by Asian countries, despite the fact that these African countries cannot bypass a broad-based agricultural revolution to successfully launch their economic transformations. This requires addressing these challenges that are community and country specific. Another major concern is that there is no reassurance that smallholder farming communities will respond appropriately to commercialization initiatives. “The local context and farmer characteristics and attitudes need to be much better understood in order address the strengths and weaknesses of the sector participants and the opportunities and threats of the external environment” (Poole et al., 2013). These cautions make it critical for knowledge creation within of commercialization of agriculture in smallholder communities. 

Achieving the commercialization objectives in smallholder communities, require the application of entrepreneurial strategies appropriate to these contexts (Zelekha and Dana, 2019). This is because study of a community of an agricultural community of farmers report a high failure rate among these enterprises (Acheampong et al., 2017) and weak ability to meet local demands (Dana, 2007).

NOTE: See the attached document for details.