International agriculture: Prospects for Guinea

 

Guinea was as soon as the key agricultural producer among the many French colonies of western Africa. Over the previous few many years, the sector has stagnated.

Agriculture stays beneath its potential, representing 24% of GDP in 2018.

The mining business is the important thing driver of financial development in Guinea, contributing roughly 35% to the nation’s GDP.

Guinea underwent a regime change on 5 September, 2021, after a army coup deposed former president Alpha Conde amid accusations of large-scale fraud and embezzlement.

The president of Guinea’s transitional authorities, Colonel Mamadi Doumbouya, has realised that agriculture is a sleeping large.

See additionally: Photos: FW visits farms in Guinea

Farmers Weekly’s Philip Case visited the nation to search out out extra concerning the agriculture sector there.

His information was Alpha Ousmane Souaré, a farming journalist, primarily based within the capital metropolis, Conakry.

Mr Souaré works at radio station FIM 95.3 in Conakry, the place he presents La Guinée Rurale programme each Sunday morning.

He can be head of Amedar (Media and Agriculture Association on Rural Development), a community of Guinean agricultural journalists working to boost the profile of agriculture.

Agriculture in Guinea

N'Dama cattle

N’Dama cattle © MAG/Philip Case

  • 24% of GDP attributed to agriculture in 2018
  • 54% of the workforce employed in agriculture
  • 1,100mm to 4,000mm of annual rainfall (relying on area)
  • 15.5m hectares of arable land
  • Just 10% of land is in common cultivation
  • 5% of crop land is irrigated

Sources: The World Bank in Guinea, ministry of agriculture (Guinea), International Fund for Agricultural Development

Guinea has an estimated 15.5m hectares of arable land, of which 3.85m hectares (25%) is farmed, and 10% is cultivated yearly.

It additionally has 7m hectares of “wealthy and diversified” pure pastures, in line with a November 2020 report by the International Fund for Agricultural Development.

The nation is subdivided into 4 pure zones: Lower Guinea, Middle Guinea, Upper Guinea and Forest Guinea.

Each area has its personal challenges, together with totally different climates and geographical traits corresponding to temperate mountain areas.

About 85% of its inhabitants are smallholder/subsistence farmers. Two-thirds of their farms are lower than 3ha.

All kinds of crops are grown, together with rice, maize, fonio, potatoes, greens, pineapples, bananas, mangos, palm oil, dried fruits and low beans.

Although soil testing just isn’t frequent, soils are fertile, water is in abundance and the local weather is nice for farming – generally, six months of wet season (June to November), adopted by six months of drier climate (December to May).

Nitrogen fertilisers are used to advertise plant development, however many farmers practise “bio-farming” (natural farming).

Livestock farming, together with cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and poultry, is Guinea’s second-largest exercise within the rural sector after cropping.

Farm animals are the principle supply of earnings for round 30% of the agricultural inhabitants.

The N’Dama beef breed, which is believed to have originated from the Fouta-Djallon highlands of Guinea, is by far essentially the most dominant cattle breed. It is a small, multipurpose breed, which is docile and disease-resistant.

Cows can calve as much as 19 years previous, however milk manufacturing is low and they’re primarily bred for beef, which is of common high quality.

Research is taking a look at crossbreeding utilizing synthetic insemination to supply better-performing cows.

Government plans

In May, Col Doumbouya launched the Fonds de Développement Agricole (FODA) to advertise personal funding within the agricultural sector, permit higher exploitation of Guinea’s agricultural potential and contribute to higher farm incomes and meals safety.

Speaking at a press briefing in Conakry, farm minister Mamadou Nagnalen Barry informed how Guinea information round 30% of post-harvest losses as a consequence of unhealthy programs, poor entry to markets and insufficient storage.

Mr Barry says Guinea’s authorities doubled the funding for the agriculture sector this 12 months to $30m (£26.12m), of which $4m (£3.48m) is already in farmers’ financial institution accounts.

“We try to win again belief [of farmers],” he provides.

In all areas, farmers have fashioned federations of their sectors to trade technical help.

The personal NGOs are recognised by authorities and members get collectively to use for funding for gear, which, as soon as bought will be borrowed or rented out.

On day two, we go to Entreprise Tidiane Agriculture, an organization that, throughout the framework of the public-private partnership, works in shut collaboration with the technical companies of the ministry of agriculture.

The firm has arrange discipline colleges. Director common Tidiane Diallo will construct a coaching centre with dormitories to facilitate studying.

The plan is to show younger farmers the very best methods and techniques to succeed and have the most important impression.

Mr Diallo says he imports and distributes all types of agricultural inputs, together with chemical compounds, seeds and fertilisers, from international locations the world over and he’s open to collaboration with extra corporations, particularly within the UK.

Guinea’s four-point plan to enhance agriculture

tractors in Kindia

© MAG/Philip Case

Guinea’s agriculture ministry has introduced a four-point plan for extra funding in its agricultural business.

  • The give attention to equipment and expertise (mechanisation of agricultural automobiles) sees 500 state-owned tractors being made obtainable for farmers to purchase, paying 35% up entrance and the remaining 65% over 5 years to personal the car outright
  • Between 400 and 500 individuals are being recruited from the capital to supply advisory companies to farmers in rural areas
  • Access to finance (each public and assist for personal) is the third purpose
  • The fourth focus level is enhancing entry for farmers to credit score, help grants and agricultural inputs

Infrastructure

A visit to the Kindia prefecture on day three, 70 miles north-east of Conakry, and one of many of the very best areas to develop pineapples and bananas, was a key a part of our go to.

Our delegation faces horrendous “bouchons” (site visitors jams) on roads which are in stunning situation.

Our 4×4 car is bounced round like a seashore ball as we deal with the big craters, or “pattes d’éléphant” (elephant’s ft) – an appropriate metaphor.

Mr Souaré says poor infrastructure is one purpose why Guinea doesn’t export a lot agri-produce. Chinese corporations are constructing new roads to hyperlink city to rural areas, however it’ll take a few years earlier than completion.

No chilly storage transportation community means agri-produce is at critical danger of rotting en route. An absence of grain shops on farms can be a giant constraint.

After a number of lengthy hours on the highway, we arrive at Kindia’s prefectural directorate of agriculture, which homes the agricultural mechanisation centre, for a gathering with native farmers and agronomists.

In the yard, there are two ageing Chinese mix harvesters and three tractors, together with a blue Farmtrac, imported from India and bought by the Guinean authorities.

During the assembly, farmers specific frustration over the various obstacles they’re experiencing of their every day work.

Mechanisation

One farmer says mechanisation is the important thing to unlocking Guinea’s agricultural sector.

He notes western international locations, such because the US, have launched mechanisation and new applied sciences, which interprets to only 2% of the workforce being required for farming.

This 12 months, farmers in Kindia drilled many crops, however struggled at harvest with a scarcity of mix harvesters. Mechanics are briefly provide and if machines break down, it might take time earlier than they’re again up and operating.

Kindia has between 2,500mm and three,000mm of rainfall a 12 months – arguably an excessive amount of.

It is a productive space, however poor infrastructure, together with a scarcity of crop irrigation programs within the dry season, is stopping it from reaching its full potential, say farmers.

Farmers say one other huge headache is a scarcity of subsoilers/cultivators to arrange the bottom for following crops.

In Guinea, efforts are being made to deal with poor forest governance and land clearing for “slash and burn” agriculture.

Tree felling just isn’t allowed in Kindia in July, August and September for soil and water conservation. During this era, farmers are inspired to plant new bushes.

They will not be allowed to fell bushes on excessive summits at any time of the 12 months.

Investment

In abstract, Guinea’s agriculture sector wants main funding – each private and non-private – to create jobs, increase meals safety within the area and kickstart exports.

This would require larger use of latest expertise and mechanisation, sharing of experience, upskilling the present workforce and new recruitment, higher entry to info and high-speed broadband in rural areas.

Mr Souaré says the provision of land and entry to water means there are huge alternatives to start out farming partnerships in Guinea.

But it’s uncommon to see a person tenant farmer farming greater than 100ha as a consequence of a scarcity of workforce and equipment, particularly at harvest.

Guineans have good concepts, however many don’t have the monetary means to grasp them, Mr Souaré says. There are huge alternatives so as to add worth to Guinea’s uncooked agricultural merchandise.

There is a scarcity of processing items for agricultural meals merchandise. The irony of consuming mango juice imported from Vietnam, whereas sat in a restaurant in a rustic that has important mango manufacturing was not misplaced on us.

“There are at all times alternatives in Guinea for somebody who comes from Europe, the Americas or elsewhere and who has acquired the means to take a position, assist the neighborhood and make good returns.” Mr Souaré says.

Farmers Weekly thanks Amedar and the British Guild of Agricultural Journalists for making this press journey attainable.

Bah Mohamed, pineapple and tomato producer, primarily based in Kindia

Bah Mohamed

Bah Mohamed © MAG/Philip Case

Young farmer Bah Mohamed has been producing pineapples since 2018 and tomatoes for greater than three years in Kindia.

He wish to see extra help for younger farmers and girls from the transitional authorities.

Mr Mohamed says it isn’t straightforward for younger farmers to get on the land, and once they do, many battle to acquire natural or chemical fertiliser.

This causes a serious downside for many who wish to enhance their productiveness.

Because there is no such thing as a chilly storage, he says farmers are in a rush to promote their produce as a whole lot of merchandise are perishable inside two, three or 4 days.

But farmers are restricted within the availability of markets for his or her produce and typically should exit of their approach to make a sale.

Off-farm, the roads will not be good and there are site visitors jams all over the place.

Mr Mohamed has adopted classes on-line to have the ability to produce meals utilizing pure inputs – “nothing however clear natural farming.”

He says the agriculture minister ought to strategy farmers like him to assist share his experiences of rising crops with different younger farmers.

Mr Mohamed needs the agriculture minister to make crop technicians obtainable to younger farmers and assist them promote their items at a minimal worth.

Asked concerning the future, he’s someplace between impartial and optimistic.

“It’s true there’s good discuss. The engagement that the president and the minister discuss is reassuring. But on the bottom, we don’t see it.”

Podcast

Bah Mohamed and Philip Case talk about the challenges confronted by younger farmers in Guinea within the Farmers Weekly podcast.