Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Intensification won't feed Africa (journal)

When yield gaps are poverty traps: The paradigm of ecological intensification in African smallholder agriculture

Yield gaps are pervasive in African smallholder agriculture, and are large for almost all crops in all regions. Poor soil fertility and nutrient availability are the major biophysical limitations to agricultural production in the continent. Estimates of yield gaps are given for major crops, together with a framework for how yield gaps can be estimated. The paradigm of ecological intensification which focuses on yield potential, soil quality and precision agriculture is explored. Our analysis suggests that smallholder farmers are unable to benefit from yield gains offered by plant genetic improvement, while continued cropping without sufficient inputs of nutrients and organic matter leads to   soil degradation. This necessitates a rethink for development policy.

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