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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  • Rainfed Mixed System (2 percent land area, 18 percent agriculture population in Middle East and North Africa)
    The crops in this system are primarily rainfed, although in some areas supplementary irrigation on wheat and full irrigation for summer cash crops are developing rapidly. There is some dry-season grazing of sheep migrating from the steppe areas. There are tree crops (olives and fruit trees), melons and grapes. There is also some protected cropping with supplementary irrigation for flowers, potatoes, sugar beet, vegetables and specialist crops. In the more humid areas there are few trees apart from more drought-resistant ones. Common crops are barley, chickpeas, lentils, wheat and fodder crops such as vetches and medics. Some supplementary irrigation may be used for vegetable and cutflower production. Many farms are intensively capitalized with a high level of inputs, and farmers are very sensitive to market opportunities. There are a number of specialized dairy and poultry systems within this ecological zone. These may also include summer crops grown following winter fallow or with some supplementary irrigation. Major production constraints are poor access to quality land by increasing numbers of small farmers, soil erosion on slopes during rainstorms, and erosion by wind on light, over-cultivated, exposed soils.
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