Department and School: Botany Department; Makerere University
Food insecurity has remained a very big threat on the African continent. This is evidenced by the common occurrences of hunger and malnourishment among the African people. This is mainly due to less improved agricultural systems that are mainly rain fed and free range and hence depend on the natural occurrences for the entire food production. With the current trends of climate change bringing in harsh episodes of drought and floods adding to problems of diseases and pests food insecurity will escalate!
However the continent could fight food insecurity by avoiding natural dependency and hence embracing agricultural innovation which would be easy since the continent is endowed with land resources and ample fresh water bodies suitable for agriculture that could make the continent rise to the challenge and reverse the perennial food deficit.
Africa has much arable land that can be put to agriculture that has been underutilized mainly because farmers continue to use tools and methods that can’t put vast land to production and therefore with agricultural innovation and use of machines like tractors and other improved equipment being used, then much land would be put to agricultural production hence reducing food insecurity.
It’s also a fact that agricultural production continues to emanate from expansion of cropping areas rather than increased productivity on the lands already cultivated and the same happens with grazing land using local breeds. The result to this land use has become soil erosion and hence soil infertility in some cases these have attracted landslides, however when using agricultural innovation like use of improved agricultural crops and animals plus the use of fertilizers (organic and inorganic) and improved fodder, less land would be used and enormous food produced in a sustainable way hence putting food insecurity under check.
As stated earlier agriculture in Africa is largely rain fed meaning that any shortage of this natural source of water then there would be heavy losses of animals and plants and hence food insecurity and yet the use of our own waters if the irrigation innovation systems are in place could stop this. The use of quick maturing crops is also important in this. And innovations of keeping and storing animal feed could in the same way solve the death of animals hence giving a continued supply of food regardless of the seasons.
Lastly agricultural innovation could actually help in even keeping what is already produced as Africa loses a lot of food in the post harvest period due to poor storage systems. And the innovations that include manufacture and application of pesticides, use of refrigerators and many other types of equipment that are important in value addition to keep the food in times when it’s plenty and a robust transport system to transport the food from where it’s more to where it’s scarce, could help us have a food secure Africa!