As we strive to feed a population expected to reach nine billion by 2050, there is a need of a new paradigm for the agricultural system, defined by a “Sustainable Intensification” of production.
On present trends, African food production systems will only be able to meet 13% of the continent’s food needs by 2050, in the conditions in which the population in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) will almost double by 2050, to close to two billion people. There is definitely a lack on the production efficiency side, as yields have increased by over 200% in Asia and Latin America but only by 90% in Africa on average in the last 40 years. At the same time, Africa is one of the continent at most affected by climate changes and land erosions. More than 95 million ha of arable land, or 75% of the total in SSA, has degraded or highly degraded soil. Given than increase in production cannot originate anymore in augmentation of land in use - between 1991 and 2009 per capita arable land fell by about 76m2 per year – a new system has to be proposed to answer these challenges. It will need to offer more outputs, but with a much more efficient use of all inputs on a durable basis, for a reduction of environmental damages, and resilience building.
In order to offer a framework for understanding this concept, and practical approaches to achieving it, the Montpellier Panel has drafted a report entitled 'Sustainable Intensification: A New Paradigm for African Agriculture'. The launch of the report was marked by a roundtable organized by CTA and the European Commission on 28 May in Brussels. The discussion engaged more than 70 participants.
The event heard that there is no one single approach which can lead to the success of sustainable Intensification in agriculture. What it is needed is a strong complementarily between different aspects. From this the need of integrating three key approaches: socio-economic aspects, ecological practices, and genetic intensification.
Peter Hazell, Montpellier Panel member and Visiting Professor at the Imperial College of London underlined that, for a change to take place, it is essential to mobilize different agents of change such as NGOs, international organizations and donors. A practical tool to achieve this would be through the Value Chain Analysis (VCA), which would allow to follow one commodity from production to commercialization and detect where are weak points and work on them with the appropriate actor.
According to Tom Arnold, Montpellier Panel member, and former CEO of Concern Worldwide, (currently Chair of the Convention of the Irish Constitution), the biggest value of the report lays in its implication for African governments, highlighting the need to create an adequate policy environment that would favor sustainable intensification and the need for a strong commitment over agriculture
The Montpellier Panel is a group of international experts from the fields of agriculture, sustainable development, trade, policy, and global development chaired by Sir Gordon Conway of Imperial College London. The Panel is working to make recommendations to enable better European government support of national and regional agricultural development and food security priorities in Sub-Saharan Africa.
You can download the Montpellier report “Sustainable Intensification: A New Paradigm for African Agriculture” here.
Source: Montpellier report “Sustainable Intensification: A New Paradigm for African Agriculture”