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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  • Highland Perennial System (1 percent land area, 8 percent agriculture population in Sub-Saharan Africa)
    This farming system occurs mainly in Burundi, Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Uganda. It supports Africa's highest rural population density (more than one person per hectare of land). Land use is intense and holdings are very small (average cultivated area per household is just under 1 hectare, but more than 50 percent of holdings are smaller than 0.5 hectare). The farming system is based on perennial crops such as banana, plantain, enset (Ethiopian false banana) and coffee, complemented by cassava, sweet potato, beans and cereals. Cattle are kept for milk, manure, bride wealth, savings and social security. The main constraints are diminishing farm size and declining soil fertility, leading to increasing poverty and hunger. People cope by working the land more intensively, but returns to labour are low.
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