Refer to Isaac Sebakijje’s article, “Africa needs new mindset for agriculture development” (The New Times, July 24). It is important to note that most of the African countries align their development benchmarks with those of the Asian Tigers. Yet the same Asian Tigers achieved their “miraculous” economic development through import substitution of mainly high technological products. They were assured of huge market from mainly the US, a country with one of the highest per capita income rates.
The Asian Tigers had political upheavals and purely undemocratic/dictatorial states, and used top-down kind of political systems where great technocrats think of innovative ideas and then directly impose them on the population, rightly knowing that the long-term impacts would be positive.
African countries have ignored the agricultural sector, yet it has the highest potential for rapid economic development considering that soon the sub-Saharan Africa will experience a surge in the rural-urban migration. This will expose city dwellers to reduced food supply, since the ones coming to the city are largely the productive age.
They look for non-agricultural-related jobs in the city and ignore the fertile land in the rural countryside. The Government of Rwanda, under President Paul Kagame, has taken great steps in the right direction – toward economic development.
Considering our limited land resource, I can see that we are mainly looking at development of the human resource (education sector), development of science and technology, and the fight against state-inspired corruption.
James Munanura, Rwanda
African leaders unfortunately link agriculture to peasantry and rural economies. What they fail to realise is that before a nation can distract itself with industrial development and information technology, they need to be self sufficient in basic necessities such as food, shelter and health. Otherwise, the population is in perpetual survival mode and cannot have time to focus on more advanced sectors such as research and science.
Hence the government should focus on agriculture first.
The BRICS countries used agro-business to gain a foothold in the world economy while our fledgling economies need to become industrial before we can feed ourselves.
Steven Apell, United States