NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 8 – Seventy-five percent of sub-Saharan Africa’s (SSA) rapid agricultural productivity growth has been driven by the expansion of farms, a new report dubbed 2021 Africa Agriculture Status Report (AASR21) has revealed.
The report, which was unveiled Tuesday during the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) summit noted that only 25 percent growth was achieved by yield growth.
The four-day summit seeks to discuss the best ways to rebuild and sustainably enhance Africa’s food systems.
Andrew Cox, AGRA’s Chief of Staff and Strategy noted that the discrepancy highlights the need to maximize yields and productivity on existing farmland in order to make African food systems more resilient.
“Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has registered the most rapid rate of agricultural production growth since 2000 of any region of the world. However, three-quarters of this growth is driven by the expansion of cropland, over yield increases,” he said.
Cox said that raising yields and productivity on existing farmland is among the most important ways to make African food systems more resilient and sustainable.
The report called for all agricultural stakeholders to put steps in place measures to increase production without compromising the continent’s natural resources.
“With Africa’s population expected to double to nearly 2,5 billion by 2050, now is the time for stakeholders to put the steps in place to increase production without compromising the continent’s natural resources,” it stated in part.
The report further explained that rising productivity on existing farmland will reduce pressures for continued expansion of cropland, and preserve valued forest and grassland ecosystems and the biodiversity that they provide.
Stakeholders in the sector also called for increased public investments in agricultural research, development, and extension as part of measures to rebuild and sustainably enhance Africa’s food systems.
The report indicated that agricultural spending is still low in Sub-Saharan countries amounting to less than one percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in most countries.
Agnes Kalibata, president of the summit noted that maximizing yields and productivity on existing farmland has the potential to make African food systems more resilient.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that despite the progress we’ve made over the last decade, Africa’s food systems remain fragile to external shocks. We must take the opportunity we have to rebuild from the pandemic, to make our food systems more resilient without putting further pressure on the environment,” Kalibata said.