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.
Improved agricultural productivity from greatly enhanced public investments in agricultural research and extension will play a key role in achieving and sustaining measurable improvements in African food security. The Study Panel recognizes that such improvements must be accompanied by ancillary public investments. These include investments in education, especially of women, access to clean water, rural roads and irrigation. These must be complemented by private investments in inputs such as fertilizers, farm and post-harvest machinery, and vehicles.
The Study Panel urges governments and international agencies to respond to the need for a renewed commitment to African agricultural research and development and help to make food insecurity a thing of the past. To illustrate the magnitude of the task, yet its feasibility, estimates have been made of the public investments required on the items above to reduce the number of malnourished children in Sub-Saharan Africa by 33 percent - from the 1997 level of 33 million to 22 million in 2020 (Rosegrant et al., 2001). Projected investments between 1997 and 2020 would need to increase by 71 percent, achieving an aggregate total investment of US$183 billion compared to a baseline or most likely scenario level of US$107 million over the same period. This amounts to an increased investment of only US$4.27 per person in Sub-Saharan Africa per year.
To achieve these reductions in child malnutrition would require realized crop yield annual growth rates of between 2.7 and 3.6 percent from 1997 to 2020. These rates are double those in the baseline scenarios examined, but achievable, as we have seen in Chapter 4. They may imply a 10 percent annual growth in fertilizer use, a level commensurate with the 9 percent annual growth in Asia from 1960-95. Rates of female schooling are projected to rise by 20 percent in this scenario, with access to clean water and female life expectancy both increasing 10 percent.