Author(s): Chinogonum CD, Chijioke OH
Agriculture contributes immensely to the African economy in various ways; namely, in the provision of food for the increasing population; supply of adequate raw materials to a growing industrial sector; a major source of employment; generation of foreign exchange earnings; and, provision of a market for the products of the industrial sector among others. This paper argues that the agrarian sector has a strong rural base; hence, concern for agriculture and rural development become synonymous, with a common root and that the bedrock of agriculture and agricultural development in Africa is rural development, without which all efforts at agricultural development will be futile. It observes that African agriculture remains largely traditional and concentrated in the hands of smallholders and pastoralists, and the neglect of agriculture has resulted to the mass exodus of rural dwellers and in turn has made the rural area qualitatively and quantitatively depopulated, and progressively less attractive for socioeconomic investment. It discusses the problems and challenges posed by this and government responses to the rural infrastructural needs of the people in the rural areas. It therefore recommends that for the government(s) agricultural policies to achieve its target, there is need for an adequate level of strategically targeted investment in agriculture, upgrade rural infrastructure, boost productivity, and increase competitiveness of the farm output, in addition to fighting corruption. It is the view of the paper that in order to facilitate agricultural development, government should adopt an integrated rural development approach which is a multidimensional strategy for improving the quality of the life of the rural people. It concludes that rural development is imperative for improved of agricultural growth and development in Africa.