Why So Little Agricultural Produce Exported From Africa?

Although favorable environmental conditions, limitless availability of land, and high demands of fruits and vegetables at the target markets, the export of fresh agricultural produce from most African (and Asian) countries is very small and nearly insignificant.

Export of fresh fruits and vegetables can change the local economy, by various ways, such as creating a steady flow of foreign currency into the country, create many more well-paid jobs, and increase the income of farmers and the entire value chain involved the food growing, food production and food export.

I grew up and raised in Israel, where export of fresh agricultural produce is an integral part of the agriculture management system and any farmer who wants to export can do it easily.

By working with the entire value chain of fruit export, I gained the understanding of export benefits and I am familiar with the methods of doing it.

It is considered prestigious to export food products, and a country, which is doing so, is considered as advanced and valuable to the world economy.

Biofeed developed the FreeDome pest control solution, to be extremely effective and eco-friendly so farmers can grow better, easier, and increase their income by way of… export!

In my opinion, any farmer who cannot export or sell his produce at the international export market prices is practically ”leaving money on the table”, and so is his country.

If benefits from fresh products export are so significant to the farmer and to the value chain, then why most of the farmers in Africa (and elsewhere) do not export fresh products?

Are they willingly giving up on export or are there other reasons that ‘contribute’ to that situation?

From my own experience, most of the farmers I met in Africa, Asia and elsewhere show high interest to increase their export and resulting income.

It is clear to me that they do want a better life, higher income and they do understand that export will help them achieve this and more.

Well, if farmers do want to export then what is stopping them, what other reasons can explain the low volume of fresh produce exported from Africa and Asia?

Exporting agricultural products, especially fresh ones, requires a well-organized and sophisticated organization with proper infrastructure setup, readiness for financial investment, compliance with the most stringent export criteria and standards throughout the value chain, and intimate acquaintance and access to the high value, fresh food designated international markets.

It should be noted that different export markets have different requirements, and generally, exporters would have to meet more stringent requirements as they target a market with higher return on investment (ROI) value.

For example, exporting to a neighboring country in Africa involves meeting lower barriers and standards compared to exporting to a non-African country. However, we also expect the potential export volume and price to be lower as well.

At the same time, if the same exporter wants to export high volumes to high value demanding markets, such as Europe or Japan (where prices are much higher), he will be required to meet much higher standards and barriers.

Today, most African and Asian farmers do not meet one or more of the above basic criteria and requirements, and their countries lack much of the necessary infrastructure and expertise to support them in their strive to reach export markets.

But, there is more to it, because a farmer does not simply export his produce.

In fact, the fresh produce export value chain is long, complex, often difficult to understand and to apply, and is very costly.

After harvest, the farmer sends the produce to the packaging house. The packinghouse also has to meet strict standards. However, not many packinghouses do comply.

Then there is the issue of cooling storage infrastructure and the cooling transport chain, which is often missing or faultily considered as not critical.

There is the issue of logistics, meaning taking the produce from the field to the packinghouse to the cooling infrastructure to the storage before export, to the port, to the export markets, etc.

Logistics is a considerable hurdle in keeping the produce quality, as in many countries the poor roads infrastructure damage the fruits (i.e. when the truck ‘jumps’ the fruit gets hit) and the long time it takes from the field to the packaging and later to the port.

Enforcement of the standard is often ineffective (due to non-existing tools like laboratory or non-professional inspector level or other harming ways to allow the unfit, low quality, product to pass).

Such behavior is destructive to those who do stand up to the requirements, but it mainly damaging the country position as a food exporter.

In addition, there is the issue of the concept of Time in Africa, which is very ‘flexible’ but must be very rigid when it comes to the export of food products.




Farming Diary


07.15.2020 - 07.17.2020


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