Possible solution to the Africa food crisis?


 World leaders and policy makers met in Dublin this week to discuss the very serious and often interrelated issues of hunger nutrition that face the poorest people in the world. It has been suggested that sustainable intensification, which involves producing more crops, and better nutrition from the same set of inputs, should be put at the heart of African agriculture, the idea being that it reduces environmental impacts on a sustained basis. 

However these nations face very daunting challenges, in Africa the number of hungry people rose to 239 million last year. With the continent’s population expected to almost double by 2050, the current food production system would only be able to meet the needs of 13% of the 2050 expected population. These are scary figures. 

So it seems sustainable intensification would be the only approach that might wield an improvment on the continent’s dire needs. It may be acheivable for African smallholder farmers by using practices such as ‘micro-dosing’ (using the cap of drinks to measure small amounts of fertiliser) which boosts yields and keeps prices down, or combining mixed field and tree crops to promote regeneration of diverse natural species in common lands. 

But sustainable intensification will only flourish with the co-operation and organisation in rural areas. For example ‘grain banks’ run by local farmers helps smallholders to protect their grain from diseases and pests by depositing it in the ‘bank’. 

This requires the support of governments in order to truly make a difference but these talks in Dublin show the first steps are being made to develop the huge potential sustainable intensification could have as a driver of better food security, better nutrition and quality of life.


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