Realizing the Promise and Potential of African Agriculture

Africa is rich in both natural and human resources, yet nearly 200 million of its people are undernourished because of inadequate food supplies.  Comprehensive strategies are needed across the continent to harness the power of science and technology (S&T) in ways that boost agricultural productivity, profitability, and sustainability -- ultimately ensuring that all Africans have access to enough safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs.  This report addresses the question of how science and technology can be mobilized to make that promise a reality.

Africa is rich in both natural and human resources, yet nearly 200 million of its people are undernourished because of inadequate food supplies.  Comprehensive strategies are needed across the continent to harness the power of science and technology (S&T) in ways that boost agricultural productivity, profitability, and sustainability -- ultimately ensuring that all Africans have access to enough safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs.  This report addresses the question of how science and technology can be mobilized to make that promise a reality.

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  • 4. Science and Technology Options That Can Make a Difference

    Correct and diligent application of a range of technology options can lift crop and animal production and make more effective, efficient use of land, labour and capital. This chapter explores the technologies available and their potential to increase productivity of land, labour and inputs, and will illustrate the role of science to adapt, develop and introduce such technologies. In the second section, the four high-priority farming systems, selected in Chapter 3 are evaluated on their changes in land, labour and input productivity over the past four decades.

    Yield gap analysis according to the production ecological principles cannot be fully presented for the farming systems due to the lack of a comprehensive analysis and adequate data. Therefore the yield gaps are presented in the third section for several commodities in those systems, based on field data. These yield gaps provide some insight in the constraints and opportunities for productivity increase. In the fourth section various technologies have been described in generic terms, but with special emphasis to African situations.

    The fifth section describes the complexity of the diversified farming systems in Africa. While much descriptive information is available about these systems, there is no systematic insight to recommend blueprint measures to enhance their productivity. This information does reveal encouraging results, but much systematic research for a complete picture is still needed. The effective application of new technologies can only take place with appropriate institutional arrangements in place and enabling environments created. The chapter concludes with suggestions about how such conditions can be fulfilled.

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