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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  • Dryland Mixed System (4 percent land area, 14 percent agriculture population in Middle East and North Africa)

    This system is in the dry subhumid area where the main rainfed cereals are barley and some wheat with annual or two-year fallow. Occasionally legumes (chickpeas and lentils) may be grown in higher-rainfall areas. Interactions with pastoral systems are strong as sheep may graze whole-crop barley in a dry year and the stubble of the harvested crop in average or wetter years after the end of the cropping period. Small areas of irrigated vegetables may be grown in association with these systems. Rainfed barley is grown as a whole-crop fodder or, in good years, for both grain and fodder. Cropping is highly dependent on rainfall, and the whole system is vulnerable to inter-annual and seasonal rainfall variations. In the recent past, there has been a decline in wheat area and renewed use of indigenous barley varieties. The most critical issue appears to be limited access to new crops and varieties. Some of the more arid areas with lighter soils have severe wind erosion problems during the dry season. Overgrazing is also a problem.

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