In Summary
  • Africa has refused to adopt to new storage technologies, preferring archaic cultural methods of food preservation instead.
  • Water will be rare and we shall witness conflict and mass migration as a result. 
  • It must be compulsory for every citizen to complete high school.  Perhaps this is less expensive than leaving them to their devices, to procreate without a plan.   

Africa is in a food crisis. That is not a secret. 

We often blame drought and other extreme weather conditions for it, but there are multiple other factors: farming practices, poor planning, population explosion, culture and political disruptions

It is no longer a secret that due to climatic changes, the world is about to face a future of food shortages. Water will be rare and we shall witness conflict and mass migration as a result. 

Warnings to this effect have been made at virtually every major conference, including the just concluded World Economic Forum in Durban. 

Policymakers understand that farmers need to focus less on rain-fed agriculture to mitigate against climate change, but this understanding has yielded little.

REFUGEE CRISIS

At least 80 per cent of the land mass in Kenya, for example, is either arid or semi-arid, so continued reliance on raid-fed agriculture is akin to committing suicide.

Conflict and migration are already a reality in much of Africa due to water shortage, especially with pastoralist communities. 

The conflict in Laikipia, which has resulted in loss of life, is due to persistent water shortages, politics and lack of grazing land. Without proper planning, the situation will most likely get worse during the next drought. 

In Somalia, food shortage will likely lead to a refugee crisis. Indeed, some of the refugees dying in the Mediterranean Sea are running away from countries that have not managed their food security well.   

FARMING PRACTICES

Much of Africa still relies on archaic farming methods, resulting in constant declines in yields of virtually every crop. Continued land sub-division has made it impossible to mechanise farming. 

Most countries suspended agricultural extension services, leaving decisions in agriculture to politicians. As a result, the yield improvement prescription has been fertiliser only, yet improving yield takes much more than that. 

Big data can now provide better predictions on timing, required soil supplements needed, hybrid seeds and continuous extension services to improve yields for essential crops like maize.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) data, South Africa produces four metric tons per hectare of maize, while Ethiopia manages two metric tons per hectare.

By comparison, the US yield stood at 11 tons per hectare. The yields in the rest of Africa are below the performance of the United States at the beginning of the 20th century. 

Some of the yield models that help the US can be accessed free fromGro Intelligence, an agricultural research and data company located in New York and Nairobi.

Technology has changed farming across the world and feeding our growing population will be impossible without it. 

Several data sources, including the World Bank, estimate that by 2040, the world population will be nine billion and the bulk of it will live in Africa.

Within the past one month alone in Kenya, there has been no butter, sugar and maize meal. Maize is being imported from Mexico.

Technology will make it possible to increase productivity while minimising the amount of already scarce water required for sustainable agriculture. Once more, the application of Big Data has enabled greater understanding on greater productivity.

CONSUMPTION PATTERNS

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