10 Ways to Increase African Agriculture and Improve Food Security

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Today, there are more than 800 million people struggling with hunger across the African continent. This is a frightening statistic for a region that’s home to some of the world’s most fertile land. And it’s not just the quantity of food grown in Africa that’s concerning—the quality of that food is also quite concerning. Of all the crops grown on the continent, only one (coffee) has a positive market analysis. Every other crop class has a negative market outlook, especially staples like maize and cassava, which have seen their yields plummet in recent years. This isn’t an unusual situation for any developing region; however, it is an alarming one for Africa. If we can’t find ways to increase agriculture production and improve food security in this part of the world soon, things will only get worse from here on out. Read on to discover 10 ways you can help improve African agriculture today and make sure these people don’t go hungry tomorrow

Ensure African farmers have access to fertiliser and irrigation

Agriculture provides 70% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in sub-Saharan Africa and a large portion of national income. But without access to fertiliser and irrigation, the production of just a single crop can drastically increase the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for as much as 10% of national emissions. In order to increase agriculture production in Africa, it’s crucial that we have more access to fertiliser and irrigation. Currently, only about a quarter of Africa has access to these resources. To increase this number, and generate enough rains to grow several crops in a year, we’ll also need to increase the amount of rainfall falling in Africa’s major cities.

Grow more legumes and cereals as staple crops

Cereals make up the largest group of plantains in the Southern Hemisphere and are the single most important dietary staple for many sub-Saharan African people. When farmers in sub-Saharan Africa can’t grow even one of these primary products as a part of their diet, they’re faced with a myriad of issues. For one, they’re at a disadvantage because they don’t have access to the cash-rich marketplaces that are found in both urban and rural areas. In the absence of cashgenerating businesses, they have very limited access to alternative sources of income such as selling their produce at the market. They’re also at a disadvantage because other food products, such as livestock and animal commodities, are also in short supply. Additionally, because these crops are part of the southern hemisphere, they’re often near-freezing during the winter months. When these crops are not being grown, people in other parts of the continent can’t grow their own food either.

Develop crops that are suited to local conditions

Agriculture relies on the uptake of genetic information from plantains and other cash-earning plants to maintain its viability. The uptake of other species in the field, however, requires the modification of the trade-offs between genetic security and environmental security that typically underlie the adoption of new techniques or technologies in agriculture. So, too, is the case for livestock cattle, whose meat is increasingly being rejected as a part of the diet in some parts of the continent. The same holds true for pigs, whose off-site breeding has also attracted criticism in recent years.

Increase access to quality seeds in Africa

Backyard farmers in sub-Saharan Africa have access to very few kinds of seeds that can actually be grown on their heads. Most of these seeds require a great deal of water to grow, and the average person can’t drink the water because it’s too hot and too dry in his or her area. Many privately owned farmers market their produce in order to water it carefully and avoid drying it completely. This kind of level-headed approach to growing vegetables and fruit in localities without a reliable water source is essential in order to increase the chances of a generation of food security in this region over the long term.

Limit climate change by protecting African forests

Forest ecosystems are the life-bases of many African ecosystems. They collectively account for about two-thirds of global tropical forest cover and provide habitat for a wide range of species, including elephants, monkeys, humans, and insects. To protect these ecosystems, and cut down on tropical deforestation, we can’t simply hope that our agricultural systems will be less affected by climate change. To protect forests, we need to carefully consider the ways in which tropical deforestation is being managed. Much of it comes down to decisions made by local communities about their own use of forests and the adoption of energy harvesting systems as a solution to climate change. These decisions often have a significant economic impact on the wood and fibre industries in the eastern part of the country.

Revamp African Agricultural Practices

As the continent continues to experience dramatic changes in the nature of agriculture, it’s important to up-to-dately review the practices and policies that have evolved over time. The first step towards doing this is to examine the current state of affairs in our own agricultural systems in Africa. Here are ten ways you can help improve African agriculture today and make sure these people don’t go hungry tomorrow.

Rein in Climate Change

Climate change is an issue facing much of Africa, and it’s a topic that’s already receiving a lot of attention in the media. While the details are still being ironed out between the affected countries and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the basic concepts are well-established. The more a country can reduce its emissions from all sources, including agriculture, the better. The more energy it uses to produce products like textiles, agriculture, and livestock, for example, the better. The more energy it requires to operate basic industries like mining and fishing, the better.

Restore African Biodiversity

Many of the species that make up tropical forests are threatened or extinct as a result of deforestation and overexploitation. The same can’t be said for other biological species, like those found in temperate regions. To protect biodiversity, we need to closely monitor the environment and implement strategies to stave off potential threats. For example, we can’t rely too heavily on current methods of biodiversity estimation and conservation, as these methods are limited in their ability to identify threats that may be present in the environment.

Increase access to fertiliser and irrigation

With reduced rainfall and increased temperatures, it’s no secret that growing crops in the absence of water is prospected hazardous. The same can be said about growing livestock, whose Camelot-like grazing methods often result in small quantities of cross-planted crops that could easily be eaten by the animals. To increase access to fertiliser and irrigation, however, we need to put a emphasis on implementing better water management practices. For example, we can’t get enough water from the atmosphere to grow crops in areas without access to sustainable water sources.

Conclusion: Together, We Can — And We Must

Although African agriculture is often regarded as a relatively poor 217-nation industry with much room for improvement, there are ways to increase agricultural production and improve food security. This can be done regardless of where you live in the world, as long as you take action to improve the environment and your personal health.

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