POST Online Media Lite Edition



 

Can Africa feed itself? Simply: No

Staff Writer |
In 2050, when the population of Africa is two and a half times larger than now, the continent will scarcely be able to grow enough food for its own population.

Article continues below






Even if much higher yields are achieved on all current cropland, further expansion into uncultivated areas is likely and very risky due to biodiversity loss and increased greenhouse gas emissions.

Based on local data and model calculations, this was the conclusion of a study conducted by a team of researchers from Wageningen University & Research, several African institutes and the University of Nebraska.

Agricultural yields per hectare in sub-Saharan Africa are currently low. For example, the maize yield is only 20% of the potential yield with good management. In comparison, the yield in the Netherlands or USA is 80% of the potential yield.

Although extensive farming now satisfies most of the African population's demand for grain, in the next few decades the African population will grow by a factor of 2.6 and grain demands even 3.4 times.

Therefore in 2050 self-sufficiency on existing farm land is only feasible if the yield per hectare will rise to 80% of the potential, just as in the Netherlands or the United States.

During the past decade, the maize yield per hectare was less than 2 tonnes, with a very small annual increase (approximately 30 kg per hectare). In 2050, the yield must be approximately 7 tonnes per hectare.

As a result, an annual increase in yield per hectare of 130 kg must be achieved - starting now. "In addition, there are still possibilities to grow multiple crops per year and to expand the irrigated area, but these are options with many uncertainties," emphasises principal investigator Martin van Ittersum of Wageningen University & Research.

If that fails, then major expansions of farmland are required, which will be at the cost of natural habitats and increased greenhouse gas emissions, or enormous grain imports that must be paid with scarce foreign exchange.

In some countries, the required area is simply not available, and expansion of farmland is not sustainable, explains one of the researchers, Professor Abdullahi Bala from Nigeria.

Van Ittersum: "You still hear people say that Africa can become a major grain basket of the world, but it may be very challenging for Africa to remain even self-sufficient in the future."

Consequently, according to the international research team including Kindie Tesfaye from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) in Ethiopia, a rapid intensification of African farming is required.

He sees options that will lead to improved yields, such as grain varieties that are adapted to local conditions, and improved fertilisation and control of diseases and pests, including parasitic plants.

Tesfaye also stresses the importance of improved farming with multiple crops per year and the expansion of sustainable irrigation. Van Ittersum adds: "As a result, large investments are required in research and development, in the private and public sectors, to increase production while limiting environmental impact."

Although the researchers restricted their study to biophysical limits and possibilities, they also call for attention to market access, especially for smallholder farmers, and to transport, infrastructure, farm loans and insurance.

As a successful example, co-researcher Professor Bala of the Federal University of Technology, Minna refers to a policy that is linked to the private sector, which has been used successfully to improve rice yields and cropping intensity in Nigeria.

The researchers from Wageningen University & Research, and their colleagues from African research institutes and the University of Nebraska, collected data from 10 African countries which accommodate 54% of the total population of sub-Saharan Africa and which contain 58% of the total cropland on this part of the continent.

They mapped out the production and demand for five major grains - maize, millet, rice, sorghum and wheat - in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

They consider it unlikely that the situation is more favourable in other African countries because there the availability of arable land per capita is slightly lower.


What to read next

Thailand relaxes rules for wheat import
Milk to feed price ratio finally starting to rise in UK
African Development Bank: Africa to feed world by 2025

U.S. preliminarily finds some companies circumventing solar tariffs

 
The US Department of Commerce on Friday published its preliminary determination in a solar circumvention case, finding that certain companies in four Southeast Asian countries are dodging US duties on Chinese solar cells and modules.
 
 

Latest

Norwegian seafood exports in November increased
Germany: InvestEU - EIB invests in PBT’s eco-friendly battery material production
James Webb telescope produces an unparalleled view of the ghostly light in galaxy clusters
Currys: Amazon uses UK infrastructure while not paying enough tax

NEWS

Arctic blast set to freeze Britain as temperatures plunge to -8C

Poland: CBA detained two more persons in financial pyramid case
Flight from Poland diverted to Prague after possible bomb threat
Spain dismantles criminal organization dedicated to "CEO fraud" that operated nationally and internationally
UK rail dispute continues, union rejects latest offer from employers
South Africa: AFU seizes $2 million in assets held by corruption accused
 

BUSINESS

Switzerland watchdog investigates labour market in banking sector

EU’s embargo on Russian oil shipments, price cap mechanism come into force
Worldwide PC shipments declined 19.5% in third quarter of 2022
Highlights: November 28, 2022 - December 2, 2022
Air pollution hurts Bangladesh GDP and health
Iran begins procedures to build Darkhovin Nuclear Plant
 

Trending Now

Norwegian seafood exports in November increased

Worldwide PC shipments declined 19.5% in third quarter of 2022

U.S. preliminarily finds some companies circumventing solar tariffs

Commission opens in-depth investigation into Lithuanian measure to compensate Litgas for operation of LNG terminal


POLITICS

Commission opens in-depth investigation into Lithuanian measure to compensate Litgas for operation of LNG terminal

Indonesia plans to build nuclear power plant
€13.5 billion French scheme to compensate energy-intensive companies for indirect emission costs
UK: Business Secretary launches review to prevent small firms from being ripped off by larger companies
UK government could bring in military to ease strike action, Sunak may prepare new ban on strike
Moscow will not accept price cap on Russian oil
 

Today We Recommend

Trafigura enters $3 bln loan to supply Germany's Sefe with gas


Highlights 

Iran’s shrimp exports to Russia up by 350% this year

Global food prices overall hold steady in November

Essar plans $4.9 bln petrochemical complex in Odisha


COMPANIES

New Zealand mulls law to make Google, Meta pay for news content

John Lewis Partnership to build 1,000 rental homes
Trafigura enters $3 bln loan to supply Germany's Sefe with gas
New Zealand fines sunscreen company for claims that could not be backed up
ALDI can acquire Altmühltaler Mineralbrunnen, Schwarz Group can take over Erfurter Teigwaren
Austria: EIB supports RLB NÖ-Wien's investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency
 

CAREERS

Boeing appoints Brendan Nelson as Boeing International

Totally appoints John McMullan as medical director
Derby Building Products promotes Michael Morris to SVP
Former UK CMA CEO Andrea Coscelli to join Keystone
US Foods appoints Dave Flitman as CEO
G Mining Ventures appoints Carlos Vilhena to board
 

ECONOMY

CBI severely downgrades UK growth forecast

Japan services PMI continued to expand in November
Italy: GDP growth loses momentum in Q3
Indonesia: Inflation declines to lowest level since August in November
Australia retail sales contract in October
Cyprus' GDP growth estimated at 5.4 pct in Q3
 

EARNINGS

Genesco Q3 2023 GAAP earnings $1.66

Kirkland's Q3 sales $131.0 million
Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Q1 2023 revenue $839.5 million
Malvern Bancorp Q4 net income $2.6 million
Big Lots Q3 loss $4.33 million
Kroger Q3 profit decreases
 

OP-ED

Micromanaging is the worst enemy of efficiency and teamwork

Niger set to monetize massive gas reserves through Saharan natural gas pipeline
Putting the brakes on EV folly that choked the market
Oil discovery in Kavango Basin may mean huge benefits for Namibians
Cape Town and Dubai battle over Africa's energy future
Is America going to lose its superpower status?
 

AGRIFISH

Iran’s shrimp exports to Russia up by 350% this year

High pathogenic avian influenza confirmed in Columbia County, Oregon
Sanitary certificate to export bovine meat from Argentina agreed with Mexico
Czech Republic detects first African swine fever case in 5 years
Dutch cattle herd size barely changed in 2022
Global food prices overall hold steady in November
 

LEADERSHIP

Only 32% of employees believe their pay is fair

Corporate duty waivers limit organic company growth and innovation
Women buy from women, men buy from women and men
How employee opinion impacts CEO dismissal
Keeping it in family can be good news when it comes to CEOs
Over a third of office workers are hybrid 'misfits'
 

CRIME

Glencore to pay Republic of Congo $180 mln over alleged corruption claims

Fraudsters target water infrastructure projects, OLAF closes several cases
Rhode Island man to pay more than $2.8 million in restitution for virtual currency fraud
Switzerland fines ABB $4.3 mn over South Africa bribery
New Mexico AG announces $58.5 million opioid settlement with Smith’s Food and drug parent Kroger
Florida AG announces multistate action against CarMax over the disclosure of safety recalls
 

Magazine

TRAVEL

All aboard the Heathrow Festive Express

Asuncion, Mother of Cities and Paraguay’s center of culture, music and shopping
"Pets with Love" Dog Adoption Carnival 2022 to be held in Hong Kong
Weather-resistant ArtWalk Downtown Billings, Montana
Dual branded Courtyard and Residence Inn by Marriott Hotel opens in Montreal
Candlewood Suites Hotel opens in Aberdeen, Md.
 

SEA, LAND, AIR

Lamborghini Huracán Sterrato, first super sports car for any terrain

New colorful Porsche 718 Style Edition models
2023 Toyota Prius Prime, solar panel roof and reliability
Volvo EX90, a car with updates
Cessna Citation CJ4 Gen2 jet, pursue your business goals while enjoying journey
GMC first Sierra EV marks turning point
 

DESIGN

Patchwork carpets, vintage Persian carpets made with unparalleled skill

Real life wallpapers, perfectly executed
A. Lange & Söhne, men's watches with true Saxonian DNA
Nella Vetrina, luxurious Italian designers bathroom vanities and furniture
Karastan rugs, durable and beautiful
Leather bags for every occasion and every life style
 

GADGETS

ASUS launches ExpertBook B9 for executives

Take Elektor Fortissimo and make your own high-end amplifier
RangeXTD, a Wi-Fi extender that actually works
Monitor II A.N.C. headphones, iconic Marshall sound
Zebra TC15, a clever mix of a mobile phone and a computer for business use
Bathroom speakers will make your relaxing even better
 

HEALTH

Cornwall first area in England to trial NHS Digital Health Check

Huge rise of scarlet fever cases in UK, 6 kids dead of Strep A
Neglecting COVID this year created perfect conditions for deadly new variant
EMA recommends withdrawal of pholcodine medicines from EU market
Nearly 200 sick in EU and UK Salmonella outbreak
FDA bans Eli Lilly, Regeneron antibody use in COVID-19 patients infected by omicron
 

MEANTIME

China's two meteorological satellites put into operation

Lagoon dries up as drought grips Peru
Mysteriously bright flash is black hole jet pointing straight toward Earth
Researchers discover Egypt's oldest tomb oriented to winter solstice
China's latest manned space mission blasts off
Astrophysicists hunt for second-closest supermassive black hole