Can sub-Saharan Africa feed itself?

van Ittersum, M K and van Bussel, L G J and Wolf, J and Grassini, P and van Wart, J and Guilpart, N and Claessens, L and de Groot, H and Wiebe, K and Mason-D’Croz, D and Yang, H and Boogaard, H and van Oort, P A J and van Loon, M P and Saito, K and Adimo, O and Adjei-Nsiah, S and Agali, A and Bala, A and Chikowo, R and Kaizzi, K and Kouressy, M and Makoi, J H J R and Ouattara, K and Tesfaye, K and Cassman, K G (2016) Can sub-Saharan Africa feed itself? Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113 (52). pp. 14964-14969. ISSN 0027-8424

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Abstract

Although global food demand is expected to increase 60% by 2050 compared with 2005/2007, the rise will be much greater in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Indeed, SSA is the region at greatest food security risk because by 2050 its population will increase 2.5-fold and demand for cereals approximately triple, whereas current levels of cereal consumption already depend on substantial imports. At issue is whether SSA can meet this vast increase in cereal demand without greater reliance on cereal imports or major expansion of agricultural area and associated biodiversity loss and greenhouse gas emissions. Recent studies indicate that the global increase in food demand by 2050 can be met through closing the gap between current farm yield and yield potential on existing cropland. Here, however, we estimate it will not be feasible to meet future SSA cereal demand on existing production area by yield gap closure alone. Our agronomically robust yield gap analysis for 10 countries in SSA using location-specific data and a spatial upscaling approach reveals that, in addition to yield gap closure, other more complex and uncertain components of intensification are also needed, i.e., increasing cropping intensity (the number of crops grown per 12 mo on the same field) and sustainable expansion of irrigated production area. If intensification is not successful and massive cropland land expansion is to be avoided, SSA will depend much more on imports of cereals than it does today.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Research Program : East & Southern Africa
CRP: CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security
Uncontrolled Keywords: Yield gaps, Food self-sufficiency, Food security, Food availability, Cereals, Cereal demand, sub Saharan Africa
Subjects: Others > Food Production
Others > Food Security
Others > African Agriculture
Others > Sub-Saharan Africa
Depositing User: Mr Ramesh K
Date Deposited: 05 Jan 2017 08:16
Last Modified: 05 Jan 2017 10:45
URI: http://oar.icrisat.org/id/eprint/9824
Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1610359113
Projects: GYGA project
Funders: UNSPECIFIED
Acknowledgement: We thank J. Chamberlin for providing potentially available cropland areas and K. E. Giller for comments on an earlier version of the manuscript. This research was performed in the context of the GYGA project (www.yieldgap.org) supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Wageningen University & Research (The Netherlands). Research conducted with the International Food Policy Research Institute’s (IFPRI) IMPACT model was supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. We also acknowledge the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security (CCAFS).
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