Research reviewed 40 projects in 20 African countries where sustainable intensification was developed

February 11, 2015

"Research commissioned by the Foresight Global Food and Farming Futures project of the UK Government reviewed 40 projects in 20 African countries where sustainable intensification was developed during the 2000s. The projects included crop improvements (particularly improvements through participatory plant breeding on hitherto neglected orphan crops), integrated pest management, soil conservation and agro-forestry. By early 2010, these projects had documented benefits for 10.39 million farmers and their families and improvements on approximately 12.75 million hectares. Crop yields more than doubled on average (increasing 2.13-fold) over a period of 3-10 years, resulting in an increase in aggregate food production of 5.79 million tonnes per year, equivalent to 557 kg per farming household." (8)
"Sometimes, seemingly minor innovations can provide high returns. In Kenya, researchers and farmers developed the “push-pull” strategy to control parasitic weeds and insects that damage the crops. The strategy consists in “pushing” away pests from corn by inter-planting corn with insect-repellent crops like Desmodium, while “pulling” them towards small plots of Napier grass, a plant that excretes a sticky gum which both attracts and traps pests. The system not only controls pests but has other benefits as well, because Desmodium can be used as fodder for livestock. The push-pull strategy doubles maize
yields and milk production while, at the same time, improves the soil. The system has already spread to more than 10,000 households in East Africa by means of town meetings, national radio broadcasts and farmer field schools." (8-9)
"However, it is now implementing agroforestry systems, using nitrogen-fixing trees, to ensure sustained growth in maize production in preparation for the medium-term situation when fertilizer subsidies may have to be scaled back or withdrawn. By mid-2009, over 120,000 Malawian farmers had received training and tree materials from the programme, and support from Ireland has now enabled extension of the programme to 40 per cent of Malawi’s districts, benefiting 1.3 million of the poorest people. Research shows that this results in increased yields from 1 t/ha to 2–3 t/ha, even if farmers cannot afford commercial
nitrogen fertilizers. With an application of a quarter-dose of mineral fertilizer, maize yields may surpass 4 t/ha. However, this shows that, while investment in organic fertilizing techniques should be a priority, this should not exclude the use of other fertilizers." (9)

 

Oliver De Schutter, "Report submitted by the Special Rapporteur on the right to food", Human Rights Council, A/HRC/16/49: 8-9.
 

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