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.

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.

Image: Rik Schuiling, Agricultural scientist taking notes at research station in Saria (Burkina Faso), Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International
11 June 2018

This paper examines the role that agricultural research and innovation has in changing the food systems of developing regions, including urbanisation, decline in the importance of cereals in the diet, rise in processed foods, and shift in types of grains produced. Ways in which research affects the food system include: new breeds and varieties that are suited to small farms and/or ease of processing; cheaper inputs such as irrigation, fertilisers, herbicides and tractors; and introduction of motorised transport and temperature controlled storage. The authors call for more investment in the post-farm stages of the food system, such as processing, logistics, and wholesale, because these stages add significant value to food products.

Image: Francish7, Tasty seasonal African Plums - known locally as Safu - in Basankusu, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported
26 May 2018

A recent paper by FCRN member Roger Leakey of the International Tree Foundation explores the possibility of smallholder farms in Africa using trees and indigenous crops to provide many environmental, social and economic benefits.

19 March 2018

This book, edited by Cyndi Spindell Berck, Peter Berck and Salvatore Di Falco, examines how climate change may affect farming in Africa, adaptation practices that could help farmers thrive and the interface of adaptation with gender and development issues.

13 January 2018

This book, edited by Bruce Frayne, Jonathan Crush and Cameron McCordic, argues that programmes aimed at reducing food poverty in Africa overemphasise small-scale farmers and ignore urban food security.

30 October 2017

The Malabo Montpellier Panel’s new report, Nourished: How Africa Can Build a Future Free from Hunger and Malnutrition, takes a systematic country study approach to identify where progress has been achieved to substantially improve a country’s nutritional status.

12 June 2017

This policy brief by the NGOs IIED and Hivos describes how diversification of agriculture and food systems in Zambia can contribute to improving Zambian food and nutrition security, while also building more resilient food systems. It outlines policy recommendations on how the food and agriculture sector can better serve the country’s population through the development of sustainable diets for all.

8 May 2017

This book explores the potential benefits of Multifunctional Agriculture to the social, economic and environmental sustainability of tropical agriculture and its potential to deliver the new Sustainable Development Goals.

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