Kampala, Uganda — In 2003, oil became the major export earner for Chad after overtaking cotton that was about 80% of all export earnings.
The development of oil led the country to neglect commercial agriculture and even the oil earnings were not ploughed back into other sectors of the economy. Now the country has realised that food is after all the biggest product any country has.
“We want to concentrate on agriculture because mineral resources like oil will run out at one time,” Emmanuel Nadingar the Prime Minister of Chad told delegates at the recently concluded European Marketing Research Centre (EMRC) Agribusiness Forum in Kampala.
It is estimated that Chad has at least 1.5 billion barrels of oil reserves and that revenue from these is yet to alleviate the poverty and address food security challenges in the country.
Nadingar wants investment in agriculture so that the country may return to agriculture instead of becoming dependant on oil only. Chad has an estimated population of 10 million and according to economists it is one of the poorest and most corrupt countries in the world. It has also been crippled by civil war since and incidences of hunger.
“We have adopted a national strategy for food security with the government adopting $20m for the implementation of the programme,” Nadingar adds. He says they want to start growing and exporting more cotton with other agro pastoral projects also being opportunities for investment.
This opportunity gives agricultural investors to export food to the country, grow food crops and introduction of modern farming methods like use of high-yield seeds. “We are ready for investors and as a government they will be access our arable soils and also in terms of production facilities for the various agricultural raw materials,” he adds. “We want to allow the modernisation of agriculture in the country.”
At least 80% of Chad’s population relies on subsistence farming and livestock for survival and the different regions in the country can support various crops. In the south where the most fertile land is located, sorghum and millet can do well. As one heads north, the land begins to change into pastureland for commercial livestock herding like cows, goats and sheep among others.
The northern most parts constitute the Sahara desert but also support the growing of dates and legumes. “We have streamlined a committee that can help build partnerships with the government and the private sector for the modernisation of agriculture,” a confident Nadingar said.
Source: East African Business Week (Kampala) Image: development.thinkaboutit