For majority of the people who reside in Sub-Saharan Africa, engagement in Agriculture covers more than 70% of the labour force with more than 75% of rural dwellers survive on $1 per day work in agricultural practices.
However most of their farms do operate at the optimal level of productivity. When you compare with rates in other continents, agricultural productivity in Africa is less than half of the global average. For example yield per hectare of major crops like maize can be as 80 percent below its optimal potential. Low productivity has unfortunate consequences both at the micro and macroeconomic levels. Many farmers barely get to achieve profitability, in fact majority of farmers especially for a country like Nigeria end up producing what is just enough for their family while most times end up with loses. Agriculture continues to look less attractive for the younger generations with many educated people avoiding it for other industries.
Yield gap is a key reason farmers in Africa are not producing enough food to sustain the continent’s rapidly growing population. It is rather ironic that even when Africa has about 60 percent of the world’s uncultivated arable land, yet ends up spending about $40 billion annually on food imports.
Since low crop yields directly affect a farmer’s profitability which in turns has ripple effect on other issues like access to basic healthcare services, education and food sufficiency for his family. Combating this will radically help improve the lives of millions of farmers.