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Publication | 21 September 2021

Africa Agriculture Status Report - 2021

Over the coming decade, Africa’s food demand will rise, making it one of world’s largest sources of additional demand.

Building African farming systems’ resilience to shocks and stressors for sustainable food and nutrition security and economic growth and transformation requires shifting from extensification to intensification. This should be driven by integrated management practices on farms.

Raising yields and productivity on existing farmland is among the most important ways to make African food systems more resilient and sustainable. Raising 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.

Raising systems productivity will also require utilizing “circular economy” practices such as converting organic wastes into productive inputs in farm production, water recycling, etc. Achieving these objectives will require greater attention to technical innovation and greater support to the agricultural institutions that generate it namely agricultural research, development, and extension (R&D&E) systems.

Components for building resilience and sustainability into Africa’s agricultural production systems include:

  • efficient use of nutrients and water; improved soil health;

  • use of high-yielding, climate stress-tolerant seeds adapted to local climate change;

  • crop diversification; and

  • investments in risk mitigation and management strategies.

Practical actions for African governments, development partners, and other stakeholders to build resilience and sustainability into Africa’s agricultural production systems include:

  • provide incentives for farmers to increase adoption of management practices that increase soil nutrient and water use efficiency;

  • provide incentives that boost farmer demand for inorganic fertilizers and increase availability and uptake of organic inputs;

  • create conducive policy and regulatory environments for fertilizer businesses;

  • support fertilizer trade financing via credit guarantees and supplier credit;

  • increase funding to agricultural R&D&E;

  • create incentives for and invest in irrigation; and

  • prioritize policy actions that enhance synergies and avoid policy collisions.

Policy options to build resilience include enhancing the security of supply chains, building early warning systems, developing insurance markets, protecting productive assets, and providing humanitarian relief after a natural or man-made disaster has occurred.

Value addition post-farm in Africa is low by international standards. To meet growing demand, Africa will benefit from upgrading value chains in the food system. This is best achieved through policies that support agricultural transformation more generally and incentives that encourage private investment in food systems.

Policies that facilitate youth access to productive resources (land, finance, digital technology, mechanization) and create enabling environment to develop their skills and innovative capacity are critical to enhancing youth engagement and effective contribution to building resilient AFSs.

Social protection programs have positive effects on the capacity of farm households to become more productive and resilient; they are not simply safety net programs.