Africa can feed itself

Gari for sale at a wholesale market in Ihugh, Benue state, Nigeria. Photo by IITA.
Gari for sale at a wholesale market in Ihugh, Benue state, Nigeria. Photo by IITA.

Even while nearly a quarter of the world’s one North Face UK Sale the more obvious stuff off billion-plus hungry are in Africa, the continent can easily meet its food and income needs with additional investments in agriculture, particularly in research and capacity-building. This was the general sentiment aired by agricultural experts gathered at a World Food Day 2009 forum that we organized in Lusaka, Zambia in October.

By investing in research and training, simple but effective technologies that already exist can be easily made available to African farmers to improve their productivity, which is currently very low compared to global average.

If the gap between potential and actual yields can be reduced using existing science, Africa’s production can increase three-fold. However, farmers must be able to generate wealth from the increased yields. This is not always the case as a lot of produce go to waste before and after harvesting.

In Africa, an increase in production usually results in a drop in prices, which consequently means lesser incomes for farmers. Produce must also be protected from pests and diseases and from losses during transportation and storage. Alternative markets are needed to prevent prices from spiraling down with increased production.

Other lessons floated during the forum included the need to develop mechanisms to help farmers cope with the lingering effects of the global financial and food crises, strengthening the agricultural research backbone of Africa, and creating an enabling environment for farmers.

Experts said research and training institutions must come together to produce a labor force that is knowledgeable and ready to face the challenges of climate change on agriculture, and quickly find and disseminate solutions. This becomes more apparent considering that over 60 percent of the continent’s population depends heavily on agriculture for their livelihoods, with 70 percent of this comprising subsistence agriculture. Most also depend on the rains, which makes agriculture even more uncertain because of climate change.

They were also in agreement that in order to increase agricultural productivity in Africa, farmers should also start increasing their farm inputs. To achieve this, farmers need a lot of motivation through an agriculture-friendly policy environment andportlandhallhotel water-Th i will tepid to rewarding support for improved access to feed, fertilizer, irrigation, and other inputs.

They supported the call for more investment in agricultural research and training to fight food insecurity and poverty in Africa. However, they emphasized that farmers need to actively participate in research to ensure that the technologies produced are appropriate and acceptable to them.