Nav view search

Navigation

Search

AGRICULTURE: THE LINCHPIN OF THE AFRICAN INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION

 

The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the socioeconomic and cultural conditions of the times in the United Kingdom, throughout Europe and North America. Most notably, the average income and population began to exhibit unprecedented sustained growth.

 

In the two centuries following the 1800, the average per capita income –in these countries-- increased over 10-fold. Abstaining from being histrionic, in the 18th and 19th century, Africa was still in the dark ages in the continuum of existence. Now that we have arrived at the genesis of modernity, it’s perhaps time that we refer to history as we try to figure out a way forward.

 

The matter of the fact is that every industrialized country in the world today had, at some point of its history gone through an agricultural and industrial revolution of some sort. France, Britain, United Sates of America and many more had made Agriculture the prime driver of their industrial revolution. This explains why they went across the oceans in desperate search for slave labor at the time. Remember the black negroes in the cotton, wheat and corn farms in Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia in the US? The sugarcane farms in the Caribbean and Jamaica ? Well, it was all about Agriculture. The Whiteman had come to the understanding that “Green” was the way to go. They understood that economic and industrial revolution begin with agriculture.

Why did these countries choose agriculture and not petroleum or other forms of industries at this early stage of their development? Why Agriculture first ? Well, when God created the earth, all there was on earth was the ground. Incidentally HE made the ground fertile, so you could plant seeds in it and see them grow miraculously. And then comes the good time when you get to harvest what you planted. I may be trivializing here. But seriously, agriculture has the –unmatched-- advantage of being a low cost investment industry, besides being a low tech industry, where the requirements of the genius minds like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs are not necessarily needed. The main infrastructure of agriculture –the soil—is already in place almost everywhere on earth. It’s therefore the most natural instinctive place of choice to start. In the case of Africa, I will go one step further in asserting that it is especially perfectly suited for the African population who may not necessary be educated and exposed to marvels of modernity and perhaps do not necessarily have the same level of ingenuity that we see in other parts of the world. The Grandma and GrandPa from Muyuka to Ntaricom, from Bafoussam to Manfe, and Mom and Paps from Kumba to Sombo, from Mvomeka to Kousseri can all do it. They all know how to plant and they all know how to harvest. Agriculture is truly God’s gift to humanity. It’s the elemental and fundamental science of humanity. Human beings just seem to know how to do it albeit in a very primitive way. Why not harness the virtues of this basic and yet powerful Science ?

–There is no reason Africa can’t be leading the world in Agriculture—Barack Obama.

Agriculture should be the spear head of Africa Industrial revolution. When Ahidjo was in power, agriculture constituted about 31% on the Gross Domestic Product –GDP--. It only constitutes about 19% of our GDP today. This is in part because the country has become more inclined to gets its revenue from petroleum and natural gases, and other natural resources that Africa is so blessed to have. Ironically, the country has become poorer with petroleum than it was when Agriculture was leading the national economy. Given the level of poverty, high unemployment and low income per capita experienced in Cameroon today, it should be abundantly clear that Agriculture is the last hope that can bring back this young generation from the brink of extinction, irrelevance and massive migration out of Africa.

Basics of Industrial Agriculture: In Africa, the small farmer is usually a single man or woman who has a small farm –generally less than a few acres—who plants plantain, coco-yams, cassava, corn or groundnuts. This is essentially an agriculture of survival. The little farmer may harvest a little more than his family can eat and then he may be left with a dozen bunches of plantains or 3 –mukuta—bags of coco-yams to sell and make a living. This type of primitive, uneducated and unsubsidized form of agriculture, while good for grandma and grandpa’s survival, is not sufficient to generate the kind of Industrial agricultural activity that we seek to revamp this third world economy. One way to harness the hard work of mom and pap’s farming skills is to put in place structures, organizations and agricultural cooperatives that will coerce Grandma and Grandpa’s effort into a much larger enterprise. We need to design a system that will make agriculture an even more attractive enterprise to that young man or woman who just earned a bachelor degree. The system must incentivize small farmers to pool their resources together, to collaborate and team up in order to benefit from the subsidies made available by the Agricultural service cooperatives. The larger enterprise will then be given subsides in the form of equipment such as tractors, trucks and other heavy agricultural machinery along with the training and incentives to invest in a wide range of crops. Our government is already doing some of this with large enterprises like CDC, Pamol and SocaPalm. The policies and subsidies in place should be extended to small individual farmers all over the country. Much of what CDC, Pamol, SocaPalm and other large corporations are doing is limited to Rubber, Palms, Tea, Cocoa and Banana. The same incentives must be extended to farmers doing food crops such as tomatoes, pepper, mango, salad and other fresh vegetables that can be readily exported to the national and world markets for consumption. An agricultural revolution of this type has the potential to put people back to work and put money directly into the pockets of Cameroonians, as opposed to the illusive petroleum, natural gas and other minerals, managed by the big corporations and the corrupt Government for which the people never get anything from. In this lies the big difference between an agricultural revolution and other types of industrial revolution like Petroleum. The money generated by agricultural activities goes directly to the farmers, the partners and the people. This is what explains the unprecedented growth in house hold income in Europe and America in the 18th and 19th century, during their Agricultural revolution. The farmer essentially harvest his way to prosperity. Whereas, the money generated by Cameroon petroleum goes to corporations ---such as ELF, TOTAL—or the Cameroon government. And in a country where there is virtually no transparency in how the state’s affairs are being managed, the money almost never make it down to the people who are not government officials or civil servants. In the Petroleum revolution, the corrupt Government harvests the cash of “Big Oil” and keeps drilling its way to stay in power indefinitely without accountability and the consent of the people. So the choice of which revolution to start with is very clear. Go “Green”, go agriculture. It's a win win for the people.

Along with the investments in agriculture, we will have to invest in low cost food manufacturing industries –like chocolate, pepper and tomato factories—which are recipients of the local agricultural produces. Transportation will play a prominent role as well, as we move goods from farms to the large cities and ports of export. Parts of our Military can be used to help the farmers open virgin lands and make them available for use. Africa can lead the world in agriculture. Africa can be self sufficient in food for it's people. It takes just a little vision, imagination and creative thinking from it's leaders. The change we seek must necessarily involve agriculture as the linchpin for the economic and industrial development of the continent. The wealth aquired from agriculture can then be used to invest in other modern industrial technologies. But it begins with investing heavily in this low tech, low cost industry namely agriculture, for which our people are perfectly suited for.

 

--The cognitive ability and propensity to fight for Freedom is greatly diminished with an empty stomach. In that sense, the Green revolution carries in it the dual hope of Prosperity and Freedom. It can be the one stone that kills two birds: Poverty and Captivity—ANST

 

Powered by the ANST Fraternity order

 

 

Add comment

Please opine responsibly. Be respectful of others even and especially when you disagree. Thanks,
 


Security code
Refresh