Africa is the world’s last frontier in the global economy, with about 70% of
the population in primitive farming sector. Raw agricultural products are
exported out of the continent in tons. The sad truth is that the small-scale farmers producing these raw products get very little return on investment. In this new unique era referred to as ‘Africa’s Renaissance’ we are working to be an active part of the global economic growth for African small-scale farmers. We are working to impact the lives of the people by collaborating with local entrepreneurs creating value addition through manufacturing in communities across Africa.
Investing in manufacturing and food processing on the continent will benefit the local communities in any country, as seen in Rwanda. In all provinces cooperatives have been formed in communities to boost sustainability from farming. One can see Tea cooperatives and coffee cooperatives leading in the country.
Rwanda has positioned herself as a specialty coffee grower country. companies like the Rwanda coffee farmers cooperative have taken it one step further to roast coffee beans in their state of the art factory and share a far percentage of the sales profit with the farmers. This is one massive action step to encourage the farmers to not quit on farming because of low profit. Growing, Processing and packaging of coffee in the country before export is a huge step to support value addition through manufacturing.
Raw material export when compared to finished products adds little value to the lives of the producers and as such many families are giving up their farm lands at give away prices and moving to cities or braving the seas for the hope of a better life outside farming in Africa. Many consumers of coffee, tea or chocolate only know the the products made in Germany, England, Belgium or Switzerland. All of these countries are the biggest exporters on the global market, one can almost be convinced that these countries grow this plants. They don’t, rather they add value to the product by processing and selling the finished products to Africa and the rest of the world.
The example helped me understand the difference between raw export and value addition export. It also brought to light that farmers of these high in demand products are still struggling to have a sustainable life from farming.
The sense of urgency is to find new routes to market for the value addition products outside Africa, and improve the lives of the cooperative communities, create jobs and skilled labor for the younger generation in the manufacturing sector, boost infrastructural development and above all minimize the loss of lives on big waters in hope of a better life.