Impact of sustainable intensification of food production on environment and human well-being

Africa, once considered the breadbasket of the world, is now strongly affected by problems with food insecurity and malnutrition. Steady increases in African populations coupled with ecosystem degradation, climate change, limited access to modern production technology, poor extension services coupled with poor infrastructure amongst other factors negatively influence food security in many countries. These factors will impact any attempts to significantly improve food produced and availability to those affected in the near and distant future. A broad spectrum of solutions designed to solve the food insecurity and malnutrition syndrome have been proposed in the past but not implemented effectively for a variety of reasons.

On the basis of the extensive agricultural experience of those working in this project, both in and outside of Africa, we plan to evaluate the realities of small scale grass-roots agricultural production, where 80 percent of Africans live on less than two hectare of land and the effects of sustainable intensification of agriculture on the food security issue. Using different scales of change in agricultural production and using logical combinations of traditional and modern technologies we will attempt to formulate multi-disciplinary-based concepts for dealing with the problems facing food security in southern Africa. This programme will place emphasis on food production in the South Africa Development Community (SADC), because of similarity in agricultural production systems. However, the findings generated will have importance in other parts of the world.

The effects of modifying production in rural agriculture to improve local and regional food production on: production, the farming community, the urban-rural continuum and on the physical and biological environment in these agro-ecosystems will be examined. Findings will be discussed with invited experts from the region and politicians involved in various aspects related to food security and production. The results will be presented in lectures as well as presented in strategic documents that: 1) Critically review the complex factors impacting food security in southern Africa 2) Evaluate the multitude of concepts put forward to improve food production 3) Examine the positive and negative effects of change on the rural farming community and 4) Make proposals for innovative solutions to improve food security in the region.

This project forms part of the STIAS long-term theme project Sustainable Agro-Ecosystems.

Project leader(s):
  • Richard Sikora (INRES, Bonn)
STIAS fellow(s):
  • Janos Bogardi (United Nations University, Bonn)
  • Lukas Gakale (Former Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Botswana)
  • Eugene Terry (TransFarm Africa, Washington DC)
  • Paul Vlek (ZEF, Bonn)
  • Visiting scholar: Joyce Chitja (University of KwaZulu-Natal)

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