Agro-industries for added income
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CTA. 1990. Agro-industries for added income. Spore 28. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/45313
Agriculture must meet the challenge of feeding increasing populations
Agriculture must meet the challenge of feeding increasing populations but it cannot also be expected to provide employment and income to more and more people. Indeed, if farming practices are to become more productive, the introduction of better tools, animal draft and tractor power and chemical weed and pest control may well result in lower labour requirements on farms. Historically, industrialization has absorbed labour surplus to agriculture. However, industrialization is not necessarily synonymous with large, urban-barged factories and chemical plants; in the past most countries first developed industries based on processing primary products and on providing services to these industries and to agriculture. There is considerable potential for ACP countries to develop agriculture-based industries. Some countries already have large grain milling complexes, and processing plants for palm oil and rubber production. Most are situated in large towns and even ports because they process either imported products (grain) or products for export (oil and rubber). The potential is still there though for more small and medium-scale industries in the rural areas for processing grains and tubers, extracting vegetable oils and preserving fish, fruit and other perishable crops. Also, many by-products could be re-processed for sale. These industries would add value to products, provide work and increase income to the rural population. In West Africa there is opportunity for developing appropriate processing of cassava so that a traditional food can be made more readily available to urban dwellers. In addition, flour, par-boiled rice, palm oil and dried and smoked fish are important items of local trade. Improvements in small-scale grain-mills, cassava-graters, palm kernel-crushers, solar driers and smoking ovens could improve output and productivity, reduce wastage and increase income. Vegetables and spices that are sun dried can be processed more quickly and with less waste using simple solar driers. Some countries in the Caribbean are investigating the market for dried peppers among the growing Hispanic population in Florida; others have recognized the potential for using blemished vegetables and fruit that cannot be exported for processing into chutneys, pickles and preserves. There is also the possibility of using waste bananas to make vinegar, an essential ingredient of the pickling. Where appropriate, dairying can provide opportunity for small-scale production of butter, cheese and yoghurt, and both apiculture and sericulture may be additional options. Traditional rural crafts including blacksmithing, ropemaking, pottery, leatherwork, spinning, weaving and dyeing all complement agriculture. Simple tools and implements can be made locally rather than imported, and a new generation trained as engineers must be available if motorization of agriculture is to succeed. (See Spore27 'Mechanization a must for Africa'). Blacksmiths can also help improve the storage of crops by fabricating metal silos, while potters provide smaller containers for liquids and basket-weavers for grains, fruit and fish. If the rural economy is to nourish it must be broad-based and the activities and skills inter-dependent. Where traditional farming, fishing, processing and trading systems have been replaced by mono-crop production and centralized processing and marketing, there may be opportunity and benefit to return to a more diverse economy. An economy which offers more employment and income in the rural areas provides younger people especially with an alternative to joining the urban drift. Successful agro-industries and trade in products ranging from fresh crop to semi- and fully processed, will also provide a firm foundation of experience on which to develop further industrialization and trade. However, to succeed, government action is often necessary to prevent cut-price competition from imports and to provide training and credit for local entrepreneurs wishing to set up in the agro-industry business.