Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Africa

The 54 countries in Africa – from the dry northern African nations, through those in deserts and rainforests, all the way to the temperate parts of South Africa – are hugely varied in their ethnic, cultural, climatic, geographic, and economic aspects. The continent’s population of over a billion inhabitants, with a median age of 19.7 years, is the youngest in the world. Due to both its localised epidemics of hunger and its huge untapped agricultural potential, Sub-Saharan Africa specifically is a key focus area for many NGOs and development agencies interested in food production and security.

7 January 2020

FCRN member Ken Giller, professor of Plant Production Systems at Wageningen University & Research, has contributed to the online magazine “The Story of N2Africa”, which tells stories from the last ten years of the project N2Africa: Putting nitrogen fixation to work for smallholder farmers in Africa.

7 January 2020

This paper from the UK’s Institute of Development Studies analyses how the project N2Africa: Putting nitrogen fixation to work for smallholder farmers in Africa has contributed to development outcomes in Ghana and Ethiopia. 

9 December 2019

This briefing from the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) notes that demand for five cereals in sub-Saharan Africa is set to almost triple by 2050. It argues that it is possible for the region to be self-sufficient in cereals by 2050 using only the current area of cereal farmland, but that this requires significantly higher fertiliser use. To keep greenhouse gas emissions to the minimum possible will require suitable crop varieties, careful nutrient management, optimum planting densities and protection of crops against weeds, pests and diseases.

Image: Ian Ransley, Plantains, bananas, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
9 December 2019

This paper studies the impacts of several agricultural development projects (by USAID’s Feed the Future initiative) that aimed to tackle food loss and waste (FLW), finding that the interventions could reduce greenhouse gas emissions per unit of food produced.

25 November 2019

This book takes an interdisciplinary look at the pressures facing food systems in Southern Africa, covering topics such as economic drivers, population, climate change, water and soil fertility.

29 October 2019

This book discusses how networks of wireless sensors could be used in African agriculture, e.g. to minimise conflicts between wildlife, people and livestock, or to monitor livestock health.

29 October 2019

The book Food for All in Africa: Sustainable Intensification for African Farmers argues that the way forward for African agriculture is to produce greater yields with fewer inputs such as fertilisers and pesticides.

16 July 2019

This International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) report examines deforestation caused by small-scale shifting cultivation, logging, cash crops, mineral extraction and charcoal production, using the province of Mai-Ndombe in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as a case study.

29 April 2019

Free-range eggs in the Agbogbloshie slum in Ghana are contaminated with some of the highest levels ever measured (in eggs) of certain toxic substances due to the illegal dumping of electronic waste from Europe, according to this report from Swedish non-profit IPEN and US non-profit Basel Action Network.

Image: Max Pixel, Genus Bananas Musaceae Musa, CC0 Public Domain
26 February 2019

This commentary from the US-based Breakthrough Institute argues that agroecology is not the best way of reforming agriculture in Africa, because most African agriculture already follows agroecological principles such as avoiding monocropping and not using much fertiliser or pesticide.

11 February 2019

This report outlines the outcomes of the 4 per 1000 Africa Symposium on Soils for Food Security and Climate, which discussed the links between soil health and climate in Africa.

Image: RBerteig, cool, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
29 January 2019

This paper models the system-wide changes and consequent shifts in pre-retail greenhouse gas emissions that might result from introducing a Europe- or North American-style refrigerated food chain to sub-Saharan Africa. Total emissions might increase or decrease, depending on the scenario.

19 November 2018

This book, edited by John Dixon et al., sets out different farming systems used across Africa and their relationships to food security.

Image: Marco Schmidt, Guiera senegalensis, inflorescence and leaves, SW Burkina Faso, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
12 November 2018

Growing millet next to a woody shrub native to West Africa could increase biomass by over 900% compared to growing millet alone, according to this paper. The shrub, Guiera senegalensis J.F. Gmel, has tap roots that can reach water deep in the soil. The study traced the movement of water from the shrub’s deep roots to the millet stems in a simulated drought.

Image: Alex Dunkel, Ring-tailed Lemur (Lemur catta) at Berenty Private Reserve in Madagascar, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported
29 October 2018

This paper searched for areas of land in Africa where palm oil could be cultivated productively with minimal impact on primate populations. The results showed that such areas are rare: the areas that are suitable for growing palm oil also tend to be areas where primates are highly vulnerable.

Image: Jess Attaway, Men digging in a canal in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
22 October 2018

Wastewater canals used to irrigate urban agriculture in Burkina Faso may harbour dangerous microbes such as tuberculosis and genes that give microbes resistance to antibiotics, according to this research paper. The canals sampled by the researchers were designed to protect against flooding, but are used to water agricultural fields. The canals, which are not regularly cleaned, receive sludge, solid waste, wastewater, and effluent from a hospital, a market, houses and a slaughterhouse.

Image: Leon Brooks, Pina plantation, Wikimedia Commons, Public domain
4 September 2018

A recent paper uses data from three countries (Ghana, Mexico and Poland) to determine whether more carbon can be kept in above-ground stocks by land sparing (increasing farms yields to minimise the conversion of natural habitats to farmland) or land sharing (increasing carbon stocks on farms, at the cost of converting more natural habitat to farmland because of lower yields). Land sparing maintained the highest above-ground carbon stocks in all cases studied.

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