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 Mixed System (7 percent land area, 30 percent agriculture population in Middle East and North Africa)

    There are two subsystems in this category that are sometimes interlocking. The first is dominated by rainfed cereal and legume cropping, with tree crops like coffee, fruits, olives, and qat, as well as vegetable crops planted on terraces, sometimes with supplementary irrigation in the summer months for crops such as melons or high-value fruits. The second system, based on livestock (mostly sheep) on communally managed lands, involves several countries. In some cases, livestock, and the people who control them, are involved in a transhumance system, migrating seasonally between lowland steppes in the more humid winter season and uplands in the dry season. Such systems exist in Morocco. Wheat and barley dominate these systems that are generally monoculture with occasional fallows. Surrounding these cropped areas are common grazing lands, which may be used by owners from the same region or by pastoralists migrating to the plains for the winter season.

    Major constraints are the decline in the natural resource base through reduced maintenance of terraces and productivity losses from increasing water erosion. Some other problems are emigration to urban and plains areas, decline of soil fertility through continuous cropping, overuse of ground water, and low nutrient return. Increased competition from subsidized imports of meat and dairy products continues to impoverish small producers.

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