Food security through smallholder adaptability

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Smallholder farms in Africa, which currently produce around 80 percent of the food, need to increase production by over 70 percent to feed the growing population and at the same time reduce the serious malnutrition challenges (FAO, 2015; Juma et al., 2013). Progress in the agricultural sector in certain regions of the world has gained significant pace over the last few years, but agricultural development in Africa has remained slow, scattered and technologies developed are not readily accessible (Posthumus and Wongtschowski, 2014). African smallholder farm yields are amongst the lowest in the world, due to serious constraints that include socio-economic (e.g. population growth, urbanization, migration, inappropriate policies, poverty, malnutrition) and environmental (e.g. climate change, extreme weather events, land degradation) aspects. In addition, limited access to inputs (including good quality seeds, fertilizers, water and mechanization), information and markets restrict smallholders to take advantage of the numerous value addition opportunities in agriculture sector.

To achieve sustainable food and nutrition security (FNS) in Africa, integrated innovation processes in smallholder agriculture are needed that are implementable, sustainable and contribute to higher productivity and income. This is indeed a big challenge to address but not impossible with the right interventions, partnerships, and enabling environment. The project InnovAfrica will test, integrate, and disseminate potential sustainable agriculture intensification systems suitable to smallholders, institutional approaches (e.g. Multi Actor Platforms (MAPs) and integrated seed delivery systems) and extension and advisory services (e.g. dynamic knowledge platforms supported by smart phones, Village Knowledge centres, (VKCs)) in six case study countries of Africa in cooperation with the relevant partners in Europe. The proposed interventions have significant potential to reduce the constraints and increase smallholders’ adaptability, agricultural productivity, profitability; and nutritional benefits while reducing negative environmental impacts and enhance FNS and sustainable agriculture in Africa.

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