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Prof. V. Okoruwa's presentation given the the Africa Agriculture Week.
The role of agriculture in an economy is a major factor in determining the economy‟s state of development (Hazell and Diano, 2005). Most African countries are mainly agrarian since agriculture contributes immensely to their economies. Agriculture‟s contribution to GDP in the Africa is between 30% and 40% on the average. The sector accounts for almost 60% of total export earnings in the continent, provides the dominant occupation for about 65% of Africa‟s population and has been growing on the average at about 3.3% each year since 2000 (IFPRI, 2009). Despite this impressive contribution of agriculture to Africa‟s economy, the sector remains largely under-developed. Most farmers are still at the subsistence level and small scale, having less than 2ha of land. The level of technology is also low, production remains weather-dependent and consequently, farmers‟ incomes are low. Poor market access, weak infrastructure and limited ability to influence government policy also characterize the sector (Quartey et al, 2012). Majority of Africa's agricultural population live in rural areas and the rural population comprises over 60% of the entire population. Further, over 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa are youths under the age of 30 years and about 65% of this number, work in subsistence agriculture. Rural agricultural workers are among the poorest in Africa with poverty rate averaged at about 50% (UN/ECA, 2010).
Agriculture has the potential to serve as a strong