Africa can achieve food security by 2030

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Farming in Kenya

Africa Will Feed Itself, Say Bill and Melinda Gates

22 JANUARY 2015


Seven out of ten people living in sub-Saharan Africa are farmers. (Compare that to the United States, where the ratio is two out of a hundred.) And yet Africa has to rely on imports and food aid to feed itself. Though it’s the poorest continent in the world, it spends about $50 billion a year buying food from rich countries.

This is in part because African farmers get just a fraction of the yields that American farmers get. For example, the average maize yield in Africa is about 30 bushels an acre. In the United States, it’s more than five times that.

There’s a related problem, which is that the food most Africans eat isn’t nutritious or varied enough to make up a healthy diet. For example, many Africans consume starchy staples – maize, rice, or cassava – almost exclusively. As a result, malnutrition runs rampant across a continent of farmers, affecting children’s cognitive and physical development and therefore everything from child mortality to how much they can learn in school to the productivity of laborers in the cities.

In the next 15 years, however, innovations in farming will erase these brutal ironies. The world has already developed better fertilizer and crops that are more productive, nutritious, and drought- and disease-resistant; with access to these and other existing technologies, African farmers could theoretically double their yields.

With greater productivity, farmers will also grow a greater variety of food, and they’ll be able to sell their surpluses to supplement their family’s diet with vegetables, eggs, milk, and meat. With the right investments, we can deliver innovation and information to enough farmers in Africa to increase productivity by 50 percent for the continent overall.

Read the full article: allAfrica


Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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