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Food, Jobs and Sustainability

What African Agriculture Needs to Achieve (2018)

Sabine Sütterlin, Alexandra Reinig, Reiner Klingholz
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Sub-Saharan Africa has the lowest per capita income and the highest population growth of any region in the world. Only by promoting economic development and creating new perspectives for its population can the continent escape the dual trap of poverty and high fertility.

African agriculture, which is characterised mainly by smallholders, has a key role to play here. Although African farmers are currently unable to feed the population of the continent, they have the chance to benefit from European experiences and innovation and to avoid mistakes and undesirable developments.

To leapfrog, i.e. to skip certain stages of technological development, means in this context achieving higher yields by using resources intelligently and efficiently. If the countries of Africa succeed in linking farmers to markets, processing more raw materials in the regions where they are grown and reinvesting the gains in added value, it will be possible for them to initiate the structural changes necessary in rural areas to turn agriculture into a driver of development.

The Berlin Institute would like to thank the Bayer Foundation and the Group of Friends of the Berlin Institute for supporting this research project.

Themes: Focus on Africa, International population policies
published: 9th August 2018
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Selected Figures

Average availability of food 2013
Since the early 1960s, the supply of food has improved in all regions of the world, except in Europe and Oceania, where it has been consistently good. In some countries of sub-Saharan Africa, the amount of food available is still lower than the average minimum energy requirement of 2,100 kilocalories per capita per day. Agriculture must first of all ensure food security. If it then succeeds in developing to a point where it gets more people into work, thereby giving them prospects for the future, it can drive development throughout the entire continent and ultimately help to curb population growth in the long term.© Berlin-Institut
Combined yields per unit area for wheat, maize, rice and other crops
Since the beginning of the Green Revolution in the 1960s, farmers on the African continent have achieved only small increases in their yields, compared with their counterparts around the world. It is only in the southern part of Africa that progress approaches that evident in South America, Europe and Asia. In particular, South Africa, which has many larger enterprises, found it easier to apply the main tenets of the Green Revolution. Nonetheless, in the southern part of the African continent there have been sharp falls in yields owing to droughts.© Berlin-Institut
Production quantities of food
Although sub-Saharan Africa has five times as much agricultural land as the European Union and in 2013 was home to almost twice as many people, it produces less food than the EU. African farmers grow mainly starchy tubers such as manioc and yams and, above all, maize and sorghum among cereals. The total output of cash crops like tea, coffee and cocoa, which are mainly for export, is marginal. European food production is more diverse.© Berlin-Institut

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Sabine Sütterlin

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Contact via Mail:suetterlin@berlin-institut.org

Sabine Sütterlin freie wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin

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