City dwellers must spearhead rural development

Wednesday, July 15th, 2020 00:00 |
Kenyatta International Convention Centre hosts most global conferences held in Kenya. Photo/PD/File

Shadrack Agaki 

With the strike of coronavirus pandemic, the strong linkage between the urban and rural economies has been laid bare.

In Kenya, courier and parcel services gained pace with the amount of food stuff sent from rural areas to the city.

For many, the only way they survived  in the city has been the good will of relatives and family in rural areas. 

Were it not for the generosity of those in the village, it is unfathomable how the city dwellers would survive! 

This conspicuous support confirms the view that development of rural economies, predominantly agriculture based, will be key to the economic miracle Africa has been looking for.

Setting proper policies to boost agricultural productivity in rural area will help in achieving food security goal in the Sustainable Development Goals, Africa Union Agenda 2063 and Kenya Vision 2030.

Therefore, it is time Africa states and governments to fully implement the Maputo Declaration, which called for commitment by governments to allocated 10 per cent of budgets to agriculture and rural development, among others.

The role of urban economies in rural agriculture development must be well articulated after the pandemic.

City dwellers must deliberately be at the forefront in transformation of family farming by funding modernisation and mechanisation of small-scale farming back home. 

Africa has been seeking a green revolution similar to Asia and Latin America, but researchers have cautioned against wholesome adoption of such strategies; rather, they argue, Africa must blend and innovate around learnt strategies to realise her unique way of making agriculture work for food security.

Methinks, advocating for family farming will be the most appropriate strategy. 

It is imperative to strengthen collaboration and partnership to make family farming work. 

Collaboration as established in Africa Agenda 2063, Kenya Vision 20130 and through various strategies such as Agriculture Sector Transformation Strategy 2019-2029 in Kenya focus on increasing efficiency and effectiveness of small-scale farming.

Consequently, improving capacity of youth and women, who are critical stakeholders in development of rural areas in most developing economies, is imperative.

Government and private sector partnerships are essential as they will provide enabling infrastructure to accelerate growth of the sector. 

For instance, better roads and electricity connectivity which are public goods serve an important purpose in making rural agriculture viable.

Since such projects require substantial investment, it is the countries that have the resources to develop them.

Private sector on the other hand can greatly contribute in technological investment.

Therefore, smooth working relationship between the two stakeholders could play a paramount role in growth of the agriculture sector. 

Further, the argument of unattractive nature of farming must be discarded since the indignity brought about by food insecurity is worse than perceived dirtying hands in the farm.

In fact, if cities dwellers could make considerable investment, something that should be urgently undertaken.

The agriculture revolution Africa seeks, therefore, is conjoined with the Africa tradition of community linkage extension from the villages to the cities.

Given that Asia green revolution depended on the socialism ideology coupled with policy on state control on land to mechanise agriculture through appropriate national policy intervention, countries in Africa, most deemed democratic, must take advantage of cohesion between city and rural folks to encourage private investment to make agriculture sector prosper. 

Curbing corruption is  the other key plunk in making family farming work for food security.

Significant resources are embezzled through corruption. Proper institutional framework to eradicate the vice will avail resources for development agriculture sector.

Therefore, it is paramount to invest in development of proper governance system to ensure agriculture sector transformation. - The writer is  the communication & political advisor to West Mugirango MP

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