The Influence of Agriculture on the Economy of the Buea Municipality
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Agriculture remains the backbone of the Cameroons economy, employing 70% of its workforce while providing 42% of its gross domestic product and 30% of its export revenue. Food security in Buea is presently challenged by rapidly growing and unplanned residential areas with serious ecological consequences, especially loss of farmlands which is needed to feed the ever-growing urban population.
This study was carried out in July with the main objective to investigate the influence of agriculture on the economy in four selected villages of the of Buea municipality which are Mile 16, Buea Town, Bokwai and Bonakanda. Both primary and secondary data have been used as the basis for analysis in this study. Questionnaires were used to obtain information on the influence of agriculture on the economy of Buea Municipality.
The results showed that the Household Food Insecurity Access Scale (HFIAS) was 13 indicating that there is a moderate rate of food insecurity in Buea. Agriculture constitutes 60% of farmers’ income and accounted for 10 millions of the income of farmers in 2020. Therefore, the alternative hypothesis which states that Agriculture has a significant influence on the economy of Buea Municipality was accepted.
Agriculture plays a major role in the economic growth and development of Cameroon. As a food provider, it is a cornerstone of human existence. As an industrial raw material, it is an important contributor to economic activities in other sectors of the economy. Agriculture is a substantial user of natural resources, particularly land and water.
Its activities have impacts on the availability of these resources and their quality. Agriculture has a major impact on ecosystems and non-agricultural plants and animals, particularly in terms of biodiversity.
As with most forms of human activity, agricultural activities can have negative environmental impacts (generate negative environmental externalities) manifested in soil degradation and erosion, air and water pollution, and loss of biodiversity. However, in contrast to many other forms of economic activity, agriculture can also generate positive externalities as reflected in the creation and maintenance of attractive landscapes, and contributing to the management of water supplies, (Blandford, 2010).
Agriculture exists as one of the chief sectors in every African economy and plays a central role in achieving development. Farming accounts for 32% of continental African GDP (FAO, 2016) and subsistence farming alone employs over half of the population of Sub-Saharan Africa. As Cheru and Modi opines (2013), no country has ever successfully made the transition to industrialization without first developing its agricultural sector, yet the agricultural sector in Africa remains stagnantly underdeveloped.
A special feature of African agriculture in comparison to the rest of the world is that the sector has continued to absorb a large proportion of the working population, and has continued doing so since a very large number of young people will be entering the labour market. By 2025, it is estimated that 330 million young Africans will have entered the labour market, with limited opportunities for finding jobs in cities.
In most cases, the increase in available labour leads to additional land being put to use, albeit land that may not always be wholly suited to agriculture, or may be used at the expense of forests and classified areas. As a general trend, land is being degraded and natural capital eroded. More so that in other continents, Africa is dominated by family farming, which relies mainly on family labour (NEPAD, 2013).
Urban-based demand for food is rising exponentially, putting major pressure on African food systems to invest massively in supply chains (Richards et al., 2016). Income growth in Africa’s cities is also influencing dietary patterns and expanding the demand for food processing and value addition in agri-food systems (Tschirleyet al., 2015).
The region is also becoming more dependent on global markets for the major cereals, oilseeds, and animal products, resulting in a situation in which most foods in African cities are priced at import parity. As new towns spring up in former hinterland areas and as agricultural value chains develop, smallholder farmers are enjoying more favourable market access conditions than they used to (Chamberlin & Jayne, 2013; Richards et al., 2016).
Improved market access conditions combined with relatively high food prices are providing unprecedented opportunities for Africa’s farmers and value chain actors. It is now government policy toward markets land and the level of composition of public investments to the agricultural sector that are likely to be increasingly decisive in influencing the sector’s performance.
Agriculture employs over 70% of Cameroonians population and contributes enormously to the Cameroon economy. According to the National Institute of Statistics data, gross domestic product increased from 3.2% in 2010 to 4.1% in 2011. The structure of production shows strong potential in agriculture, forestry and mining.
The sectoral breakdown as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) remains constant from one year to another and is dominated by the services sector, which represented 46.4% of GDP in 2011, compared to 43.2% in 2010. The secondary sector represented 26.4% in 2011, which is less than 27.7% in 2010.
The primary sector contribution, rose from 21.7% to 22.9%, thanks mainly to food-crop farming and forestry. The agricultural sector contributed 3.1% to primary-sector growth. The application of stabilisation mechanisms allowed producer revenues to remain stable. Similarly, livestock farming and fishing progressed strongly from 2010 to 2011. Their contribution to growth rose from 3.0% to 16.3%, thanks to the distribution of inputs and material to livestock-farming groups (OECD, 2012).
The agricultural sector is responsible for providing food security to both the Cameroonian rural and urban populations via local production. Notwithstanding, with the rapidly expanding population growth, there is increased pressure on natural resources. According to Molua (2007), low levels of input and equally low levels of government subsidies (for example quality seeds, fertilizers, and herbicides) per capita food production declined from 22.9% to 12.8% as a result of population growth.
As a result, one may clearly anticipate a real challenge to the government which has continuously experienced an increase in populations and currently estimated at 23 million inhabitants. This situation may further be frustrated by the expected adverse impact of climate change on agriculture now and in the future.
This study seeks to analyse the role of agriculture in the economy of Buea, the agricultural systems and food crop productivity in Buea, with some recommended strategies to improve agricultural practices to ensure sustainable increase in food production capacity and food security in Buea.
At the dawn of the 21st century, agriculture is a fundamental instrument for sustainable development and plays a major role in Cameroon’s vision 2035 of becoming an emerging economy, but yet this role is still to be justified since the agricultural sector has some key challenges which include; low productivity of the smallholder farming system; limited access to credit/rural finance; very limited mechanization and poor funding of agricultural research activities.
Also, there is the unclear delineation of responsibilities between government institutions and other stakeholders. Also, farmers in the Buea Municipality are faced with so many difficulties due to the political insecurity, pest, climate change, poor road network and limited sensitization which result in low yield.
The effectiveness of the management of agricultural projects in the Buea Sub-division varies from one point to another. Such variation also leads to differences in agricultural outputs, employment and income and their respective contributions to agricultural production and development in Buea Sub-division.
How has agriculture influenced the economy of the Buea municipality?
The specific research questions are;
- What are the methods of agricultural practices in the Buea municipality?
- What are the effects of agriculture on the economy of the Buea Municipality?
- Which measures have been taken to improve on agriculture in the Buea Municipality?
The main aim of this study is to investigate the influence of agriculture on the economy of the Buea municipality.
Specifically, the study seeks to;
- To analyse the methods of agricultural practices in the Buea municipality.
- To investigate the problems faced by farmers and institutions like the South West Development Authority (SOWEDA), Institute of Agricultural Research (IRAD), Cameroon development cooperation (CDC) and their implication in the Buea Municipality.
- To propose measures that will improve agriculture output in the Buea Municipality.
Ho: Agriculture has no significant influence on the economy of Buea Municipality.
H1: Agriculture has a significant influence on the economy of Buea Municipality