Africa's growing population calls for research to increase food production

Date Published: 
8 Sep 2014
Byron Mutingwende
Date Published on Source: 
4 Sep 2014
Source organisation: 
AGRForum 2014

Higher levels of investment in agricultural research, science, and technology will boost food productivity for Africa’s rising population. This came to light at a high-level policy dialogue on “Research to feed Africa”, which took place on Monday in Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia.

Speaking at the event, Dr. Akinwimu Adesina, Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture, said Africa’s rising population would increase the demand for food.

“The population of Africa is estimated to reach 2.4 billion by 2050. With rising population, demand for food will increase. The challenge will be how to raise agricultural productivity to feed this population, while not degrading the environment,” Adesina said.

He said the continent has enormous agricultural potential, since it has 65% of the remaining total uncultivated arable land in the whole world; hence the need for higher levels of investment in research.

It is estimated that the world’s population will reach around 9 billion by 2050. For that reason, sub-Saharan Africa would need to increase crop production since it has the greatest potential to feed this projected population.

Calls to increase food production are in line with the Malabo Declaration on Accelerated African Agricultural Growth and Transformation by which African Union (AU) member states committed themselves to ending hunger by 2025 and enhancing the resilience of livelihoods and production systems to climate change, among other key objectives.

“The agricultural transformation agenda that we have thus all committed to calls for harnessing the best technologies, building the required infrastructure, developing effective institutions and crafting appropriate policies with a view to realizing the full potential of the continent’s agrifood systems to contribute to broad-based economic growth and job creation and, in so doing, to shared prosperity and improved livelihoods for a growing and thriving African population, especially its majority who are youth and women,” said H.E. Rhoda Peace Tumisiime,the Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture in the AU Commission.

Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) supports research that improves lives and livelihoods across Africa. It has funded research for cassava and bananas as well as collaborative research on climate change adaptation and resilience strategies.

It also works with organizations like the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) to encourage the use of research results by policymakers to develop policies that can improve the lives of millions of Africans.

“It is clear that we need to focus on cutting edge technologies and state-of-the-art developments to guide us to solutions in challenging areas. However, given where we work, we need to ensure that we use cutting edge science for practical purposes,” said Jean Lebel, president of IDRC.