Enjoy the second and last part of the presentation made by Prosper Dzitse at the 7th Annual GIMUN Conference. This second part makes the case against adopting industrial development to the neglect of agriculture. Read on ....
We cannot underplay the importance of industrialization in today’s competitive and boisterous world. Industrialization is a good thing; it will allow Africa a bigger room in the goods and service market of the world if pursued. It will engulf agriculture with a lot of prospects as agro-industries might receive a greater attention of government and both domestic and foreign investors as it is happening in Rwanda and Zambia. It will help Africa countries trade among one another in a special way. This is because, most countries in Africa have almost the same commodity type; from agricultural resources to mineral resources. For example, Ghana cannot sell cocoa beans to the Ivory Coast and vice versa because they both produce it in commercial quantities. However, the story can greatly change if Ghana's cocoa is taken through an industrial process and chocolate is produced out of it. As it has been proven, Ghana's chocolate is the best in the world, the government and private sector actors in Ivory Coast might readily patronize a lot of made in Ghana chocolate but will not do same for Ghana's cocoa beans because Ivory Coast is the leading exporter of cocoa in Africa. Both small scale and large scale commercial agriculture will be the drive for the young and old when raw materials are processed into finished goods for consumption and export.
This is where industrialization provokes a positive externality, where it embraces processed foods, some for export and some for domestic consumption. This will greatly help decrease a lot of processed foods we import. But, when industrialization completely shifts from agriculture into the manufacturing of goods and services there will be a threat of an intense state of food insecurity. It is said that over 600 children die of malnutrition every day and the situation is worsening. It is common to listen to many a policy actor in Africa today especially our politicians talking about prioritizing industrialization. As mentioned above, industrialization is good, it is a necessity, but I see an incoming industrial revolution in Africa that might pose a significant threat to agricultural advancement if government policy goes negatively unbalanced. The focus must first be agriculture, followed by industrialization, not the other way round.
The negative externalities of industrialization are many. The following are some of the most significant ones, to me.
Global warming and the provocation of acid rains that industrialization will command upon African soils. Africa already lies at the heart of the over-head sun. Emission of more Carbon dioxide gasses into its atmosphere will spell cataclysm for us. The depletion of the Ozone layer will make the situation unbearable for some crops to thrive as well as dehydrate farmers who use their natural energies to farm. Many children suffering from malnutrition, especially diarrhoea, will be at greater risk since they will lose too much energy. Smaller streams that naturally irrigate certain farm lands will dry up as well as rivers and other important water bodies useful for irrigation purposes.
Furthermore, poisonous gases emitted to the atmosphere from industries will induce acid rains, rich in sulphur and other chemicals, into the soil, in essence microorganisms that should add nutrients to the soil will eventually die; the only option will rest upon fertilizer usage, especially inorganic fertilizers, which is equally a disaster. A lot of inorganic materials in the body will pose health risk and many will die from food related diseases because it is evidence that Africa's health system to a large extent is weak and cannot cater well for the sick.
Again, additional monies will be spent on fertilizer importation, causing losses to Africa's foreign reserves and consequently sky-rocketing food prices. Already, it is on record that most of the humus layers of Africa's agricultural soils have been completely destroyed by ploughs whose blades are several inches larger than the thickness of the humus layer itself. For example, in Ghana, the humus layer is about six inches thick so when you use ploughs with disk sizes of say, 25 or 30 inches on Ghana's soil, you will actually be burying the micro-organisms deep down leaving no nutrients to be absorbed by plants. This will result in more money being spent on the importation of inorganic fertilizers. Many farmers who cannot afford the high cost of production will move out of business. Hunger, poverty, malnutrition, inequality and short life expectancy will be some of the end results.
While we will all acknowledge that industrialization is an indispensable aspect of development in today’s boisterous, dynamic, and competitive world, and will advocate for a deliberate industrial strategy for Africa, it is important to make sure that this strategy is geared towards agriculture development taking full account of the human dimension for economic progress driven by global competitive advantage, taking full responsibility for the protection of the natural resources that we are endowed with.
By Prosper Dzitse.
Ghana's Youth Ambassador to the Commonwealth
CEO, Institute of Mentorship and Leadership Training