Sustainable agriculture in Africa

Posted on August 24, 2017 12:01 am

Sustainable farming is the only revolution in agriculture that will help solve perennial food deficit in the continent. In a new research obtained by your blogger, agricultural bio-technology policies, promotion of public-private partnerships in agricultural bio-technology research and applications and the use of agricultural bio-technology in response to climate change need to be on the agenda of African countries. It reduces costs and improves the environment and in countries like South Africa, farmers have witnessed incredible changes in cropping and water use efficiency since they started sustainable agriculture.According to one of the report authors, sustainable agriculture and efficiency gains in Africa will be driven by a number of different factors, but efficiency was underlined by simple motivations.Growers want to look after their farms, most farmers are keen to pass the farm on in a better state than they found it.The growers in South Africa were primarily focussed on soil health to improve efficiency and cut costs. Costs like fuel and labour, techniques they’re using like no till, precision agriculture is what underlies those is much more efficient use of time, labour, fuel, machinery costs.The climate change has exacerbated the challenges to agricultural, especially in the most vulnerable African economies and geographies. By 2050 the Africa’s population would reach two billion with food demand increasing by 120 per cent from current levels, while natural resources, climate and production resources would be increasingly scarce.That would require Africa agricultural production to adapt rapidly to climate change to ensure food security.African countries faces multiple challenges like climate change, population growth, shrinking agricultural area, land degradation due to urbanization and salinity intrusion due to sea-level rise.

Natural disasters like the one that hit Sierra Leone capital Freetown last week and epidemics occur suddenly and often and with greater impacts.Many parts of Africa are suffering from the severe consequences of extreme weather.In seeking to meet the increasing demand for food, modern agriculture is using new technologies such as bio-technology to facilitate the development of new varieties.African countries need to recognize that bio-technology provides a set of powerful tools for the sustainable development of agriculture, fisheries and forestry, as well as the food industry.Modern bio-technologies have proven to be successful means for the micropropagation of virus-free plants, and have provided plant disease diagnostic kits, marker-assisted selection and a whole range of well-known techniques to improve agricultural productivity.When appropriately integrated with other technologies for the production of food, agricultural products and services, bio-technology can be of significant assistance in meeting the needs of an expanding and increasingly urbanized African population this century.In the case of using bio-technology for the production of genetically modified organisms, there’s need to assess the potential risks to the environment and human and animal health.In view of the potential contribution of bio-technology in increasing food supply and overcoming food insecurity and vulnerability, efforts should be made to ensure that African economies in general and resource-poor farmers in particular benefit more from bio-technology, while continuing to have access to a diversity of sources of genetic material.This needs to be addressed through dialogues between the public and private sectors.The progresses in life sciences and their application in bio-technology are crucial to providing solutions to the most critical global challenges facing our societies today.In terms of addressing climate challenges that are now impacting it, some African countries are planning to undertaken activities in agricultural bio-technology such as tissue culture and creating varieties that are resistant to pests and diseases. No question that technology will play a part in improving efficiency in agriculture across Africa going forward.

Contador Harrison