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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  • Forest-based System (11 percent land area, 7 percent agriculture population in Sub-Saharan Africa)

    This farming system occurs in the humid forest zone. It is found in the Congo Democratic Republic, the Congo Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Southeast Cameroon, and Gabon. Farmers practise shifting cultivation, clearing a new field from the forest every year, cropping it for 2 years (first cereals or groundnuts, then cassava) and then abandoning it to bush fallow for 7-10 years. Cassava is the staple, complemented by maize, sorghum, beans and cocoyam. Cattle populations are low. Population density is also low and physical isolation plus lack of roads and markets are serious problems. Forest products and wild game are the main source of cash, but cash is in short supply because few households have cash crops and market outlets are distant.

    Agricultural growth potential is moderate thanks to the existence of large uncultivated areas and high rainfall, but yield increases in the near future are expected to be modest. Development entails environmental risks, including soil fragility and loss of wildlife habitats.

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