Friday, April 19, 2013

Sustainable intensification 'can work for African farmers'

Lou del Bello in Smallholder farmers in Africa must participate in research to ensure higher crop yields and to fend off hunger as the continent's population grows, according to a report published today (18 April).  A combination of traditional knowledge and modern science will be key to achieving higher productivity at lower ecological cost — known as 'sustainable intensification' — the report says.

'Sustainable Intensification: A New Paradigm for African Agriculture' was written by the Montpellier Panel, a group of international experts from the fields of agriculture, sustainable development, trade, policy and global development.

The group first met in Montpellier, France, in March 2010, with the aim of helping European policymakers make better decisions in support of food security and agricultural development in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The new report is a reaction to the growing politicisation of the term 'sustainable intensification', which some now see to be promoting the interests of big, industrial agriculture. Taking a different view, the report claims the sustainable intensification approach can help smallholder farmers grow more crops and protect the environment.

In Sub-Saharan Africa food demand is growing rapidly, while supply is still insufficient. It is estimated that by 2050 the African food production system will be able to meet no more than 13 per cent of the population's needs....

Potato farmers in Angola, shot by USAID

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