Saturday, December 31, 2016

African Cropland Heading for Food Deficit

New research warns it will be almost impossible for African cropland to feed the continent by 2050 without massive changes to farming.

Harvesting millet in northern Uganda. (Image Credit: DFID via Flickr) Click to Enlarge.
The prospect that Africa’s harvests will be enough to feed all its people by mid-century is remote unless it can make huge improvements in farming on its existing cropland, a new report says.

The authors say the improvements needed will amount to “a large, abrupt acceleration in the rate of yield increase”.

If the continent seeks instead to close the gap between food production and people’s needs by cultivating new areas, they say, this will cause serious damage to wildlife, and higher emissions of greenhouse gases.

They say ways for Africa to avoid this require it to match North American and European standards of agricultural efficiency − a dauntingly difficult task implying an improvement of 60% in the next 30 years − or to find the money to pay for grain imports.

They suggest a different answer to help to close the gap:  not just more efficient but also more intensive agriculture in already-farmed areas.

The latest study simply reinforces growing concern that Africa faces a very hungry future from extreme weather through the direct impacts of climate change, or the sheer speed of its onset, or because of population growth – or from a perfect storm of all these threats together.

Read more at African Cropland Heading for Food Deficit

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