Africa is the home to the black race. It has 54 countries and majority of her citizens rely on Agriculture for a livelihood. Nature blessed Africa with resources capable of liberating the continent from her present state of non-industrialization but our insistence on doing things the crude way has relegated us industrially despite the technological boom witnessed across the world. Majority of our youths are not dreaming. The few dreaming do not have a platform to show case their vision but am grateful for this opportunity. Without dreams, there will be no inertia to chase the Africa of my dream.
First, the use of machines for the purpose of production and processing is one idea I desire deeply in the Africa of my dream. My grand mum in the village need not use her feet to crush palm fruits when machines are in place to execute the task. Farm operations ranging from site selection, land preparation, planting, weeding, fertilization, harvesting and storage is still done manually but I see a wind of change in my dream continent. An Africa where aquaponics will be the order of the day and food will be grown where it otherwise could not be grown before. This will help to enable food production where it was not possible because of resource restraint. Digital mapping is fast gaining ground. I see an Africa where wide digital mapping will be made available to Agriculturist. An Africa where the high energy from the sun will be tapped to generate energy for desalination and supply to hydroponic greenhouse. An Africa where farmers adopt precise fertilization strategies through accurate flight planning software, which has the capacity to evaluate the condition of crop. An Africa where bio agents will be used for recycling and reduce agricultural environmental pollution. It is paramount that youths started thinking about processing. Agricultural processing is a program that prepares individuals to inspect, store, process and package agricultural products. Gone are the days when we spent our energy for production that only rewarded us with peanuts as pay. Cocoa, groundnut and cotton were produced by Africans and sold to Europeans who later processed these products and sold them at exorbitant prices. My fellow youths and I have decided to add value to our products through processing in our dream continent. An Africa where all season farming with sophisticated irrigating machines is a possibility.
Again, I dream of an Africa where hybrid seed and breed will replace the current grain and local breed used for the purpose of Agriculture. Our ancestors passed the tradition of saving the best produce for subsequent cropping seasons but genetics has proven that selfing leads to homozygosity. Among the basic inputs used for Agriculture, hybrid seed and breed is the cheapest and easiest way of increasing productivity as about 40% yield increase can be guaranteed through its use. The task of providing hybrid seed and breed rests on the shoulder of research institution, seed companies and universities. Majority of our institutions are in the urban regions of Africa while most of our agricultural work take place in the rural areas. I envisage a shift in location by this institution to the villages for easy access and adoption by farmers.
Furthermore, there can be no food security when farmer security is not guaranteed. As human, we cannot do without food. There is need to address the ever-increasing farmer-herdsmen clash through industrialization. Unlike temperate continents that have four seasons, Africa has just two seasons (rainy and dry). In Nigeria for example, herdsmen are in the practice of migration to the southern part of the country in search of feed and water for their ruminant animals. This has led to a continuous loss of lives and property as herdsmen scramble for the farmers crop on the field while the farmer tries to secure his crops from the herdsmen. I dream of an Africa where the use of bailers and other equipment would be adopted to produce dry season feed in the form of hay, bay and silage .The vegetation in Africa during the rainy season is large enough to provide feed for ruminants during the off season but our negligence in tapping this resource has led to continuous waste of this resource through burning. An Africa where each citizen will be able to grow at least one economic tree for reducing the negative impact of climate change. In addition, I dream of a continent where our Agricultural engineers, technologist and inventors started producing machines indigenous to Africa. Thousands of African youths graduate yearly from our institutions but we are yet to reap from the investment made on these youths. This is because machines and project carried out by these students only end up on the dusty shelves of our libraries without full implementation. I will prayerfully trust God for a time when other continents will come to learn at the feet of Africans.
Finally, marketing and distribution as was practiced by our ancestors are presently obsolete in our time. This crude practice has made it difficult for agricultural product supply to match with demand. I foresee an Africa where extension agents can easily educate youths about the latest agricultural innovation and our local farmers will be able to use the internet to supply their products.
Dreaming is good but a dream without action will only end up being a mirage. I counsel African development bank group to go beyond receiving the essays but partner with contestants for idea harmonization and execution. Since one tree over time can make a forest, this idea has the capacity to unleash the hidden potentials in youths and accelerate industrialization in Africa. I can do spirit of an African will help us achieve this dream.