Factors affecting agribusinesses cannot be looked at from one perspective, especially for Africa. Each Sub-Saharan region is facing unique challenges in its environmental, socio-political, and economic systems. Once these challenges are met head-on with sustainable and maintainable solutions, only then can the growth of agribusinesses be stable.

Success of an agribusiness differs from place to place, also depending on the stage in which the agribusiness is operating.

Environmental factors

Among environmental or natural elements affecting the Sub-Saharan region are factors such as climate, soil, and topography.

Areas deficient in heat are deficient in agriculture. Temperature determines the growth of vegetation through determining the length of the vegetative period.

According to Chand, successful agriculture requires a fairly long summer.

In higher latitudes, however, the shortness of summer is compensated by the longer duration of the day. The total amount of heat received is enough for ripening of crops. In lower latitudes where the winters are never too cold to arrest the growth of vegetation, practically the whole year is the growing period, and the agricultural operations are timed according to rainfall.

The moisture requirements of the plant vary according to the heat received. In the higher latitudes, where the summers are not very hot or where the winds are not dry, the amount of moisture given out by plant transpiration is less than in the lower latitudes where the heat received is great and the capacity of the winds to suck up moisture considerable.

Several countries face drought, flooding, and other adverse weather conditions not favourable for production, which results in low quality post-harvest processing and low profits along the agricultural value chain.

Poor soil quality results in little or no production at all. For the production to be successful, extra investment must be
made to alter the soil quality organically or inorganically by using chemicals.

Topography affects agriculture as it relates to soil erosion, difficulty of tillage and poor transportation facilities. Mechanisation of agriculture depends entirely on the topography of land. On rough, hilly lands, the use of agricultural machinery is impossible. Whatever the challenge, there is a physical change that can be made to the land.

Socio-political factors On the social front, elements such as regional social structure, tribal cultures and social norms still affect agriculture, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa.

A region’s social structure can determine the type of farming that will be practised, for example if the main production will be done by shifting cultivation, subsistence farming, extensive cereal cultivation, or mixed farming. For example, several regions in Zambia still involve themselves with only small- scale maize production as it was the predominant farming system.

Another way in which social factors can affect agriculture is in the ownership and inheritance of land. Some land is ruled by chieftaincy which generates challenges when it comes to title deeds possession as not all land ministries acknowledge that chieftain land is worthy of the documents.

Tribal cultures can determine the dominating gender within agriculture, as some cultures are not supportive of females playing an active role in agriculture. In some countries it may even go as far as gender determining if one can assess a loan or even agricultural services from experts.

Family social structures also have an influence. Inwood (1999) states that multi-generation farmers (MG) and first-generation farmers (FG), that is farmers who do not come from a farming family; are two sub-groups of farmers that embody different motivations for farming. (The term FG is distinct from “Beginning Farmer” which is defined by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) as an individual farming 10 years or less.)

On the surface, MG and FG farmers demonstrate similar economic motivations for achieving and maintaining a livelihood, however, each group embodies a distinct set of economic and non-economic values that underlay the strategies MG and FG farmers use to structure their farm operations.

Quite a number of Sub-Saharan Africa commercial farmers are still FG, a status quo affecting the efficiency and effectiveness of farm management.

On the political front, government policies regarding land, irrigation, marketing, and trade, have a direct impact on agriculture. Regulatory measures affect subsidies, loan policy, purchase policies, agricultural marketing, international trade, and tax policy. Every participant in the agribusiness value chain is influenced.

The regulatory measures are also determined by the overall political operating system. The political system, which can be capitalistic, communist, or socialistic, determines the pattern of agricultural functionality as it will promote structures that correspond with the system to be upheld.


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