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The Path Towards Sustainability In Africa

October 9 2017
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As international development groups continue to aid nations in the African continent, economic and political stability has been easier to achieve. With this stability being realized, a new shift in focus towards sustainability seems to be transpiring. So far, this sustainability has centered around farming. Farming throughout Africa is widely considered to be the next logical frontier as sustainable development continues in the continent. Fortunately, throughout the continent, there is an abundance of natural resources which have yet to be fully taken advantage of. 

Quartz Africa reports that Africa has immense untapped agricultural potential, with at least 60% of the world’s uncultivated land and 10% of the world’s renewable freshwater. With this abundance of natural resources, it is almost unimaginable that these resources will not be sought after by other nations or used by companies in the region. International development groups have previously worked collaboratively with the agriculture industry in Africa. An example of this is Farm Africa, a non-profit organization based in the USA. The group actively works with African farmers by growing seeds that are insusceptible to diseases and providing health services to farmers’ livestock. There are dozens of other organizations who strive to achieve similar objectives throughout Africa. As these groups focus on farming, potential food security, and future sustainable development, Africans’ reliance on international development may subside as the continent has more natural resources at their disposal. Despite the surplus of natural resources available for the farming industry in Africa, there are two impediments that farmers are encountering throughout the continent: an increasing population and transportation. Both of these factors can be a setback for the continent, particularly in developmentally impoverished nations, where a surging population coupled with outdated transportation infrastructure may prevent farmers from working in unison. According to CNN, from a report from the United Nations (UN), over half of the world’s forecasted population growth by 2050 will be from Africa. Moreover, the report also details that out of nine nations forecasted to contribute to at least half of the world’s population growth, five of these nations are in Africa. A second factor illustrating the continent’s need for creating stronger farming security and food security is the dissection of the continent’s population. African Development Bank Group, or AfDB, notes that Africa’s population, currently at over 1 billion people, is forecasted to double by the year 2050. The current population of Africa, according to AfDB, is comprised of young and unemployed citizens, two of the most economically vulnerable segments of the continent’s population. Fortunately, the Bank has established at least two culinary programs – such as The Food Cuisine Initiative and the Jobs for Youth Initiative – that will employ citizens to become more knowledgeable in agriculture and allow African citizens to pursue entrepreneurship opportunities. During Africa’s shift towards sustainable farming the region’s resources will become more valuable. Due to international development organizations’ past and ongoing investments into the continent, there will be an eventual change in trajectory towards more practical means of sustainability. In the case of agriculture, this may tempt some companies to expand their influence in a variety of ways in the short term, as illustrated in the comparison of small-scale (locally owned) medium-scale (those who invest in locally owned farms) and large-scale (commercial) farming. However, in the best interests of Africa’s economic development, those options should not be considered until all citizens can have accessibility to fruits, grains, and vegetables (and livestock) in which farms can possibly provide. To guarantee the best results for farming within Africa, and to ensure that international development groups can eventually leave Africa a more stabilized continent, it is best that these groups work harmoniously until it is evident that farming has created a surplus of resources for all citizens to enjoy.

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