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‘Why Nigeria, others should focus on innovation to boost crop yield’

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[FILES] A farmer harvests wheat crop in a field. (Photo by Money SHARMA / AFP)

The 2021 Africa Agriculture status report has revealed that Nigeria and other sub-Saharan African countries witnessed the most rapid agricultural production growth of 4.3 per cent in the last 20 years, more than other regions globally.

It, however, revealed that three-quarters of the growth was driven by the expansion of cropland rather than an increase in yield, saying with Africa’s population expected to double to nearly a 2.5billion by 2050, there was a need to put in steps in place to increase production without compromising the continent’s natural resources.

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The 2021 Africa Agriculture Status Report unveiled at the ongoing Africa Green Revolution (AGRF) summit revealed that while 75 per cent of sub-Saharan Africa’s rapid agriculture growth rate was driven by the rapid expansion of cropped area, only 25 per cent was driven by yield growth.

The report stated that to achieve resilience and sustainable growth, countries in the region have to shift towards sustainable and diverse yield-driven growth, focused on raising farm productivity on existing farmland.

Senior Director African Development Institute (ADI), while presenting the report during a virtual media briefing session, stated that the status report is set out to identify actionable strategies towards building sustainable and resilient Agriculture food systems in Africa.

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He, however, reiterated the need to marry both the agroecological principles, the modern green revolution technologies, input systems among others, to ensure the sustainability of the food system.

He stressed: “In the next 10 years, we need to transition from result-dependent agric output growth to productivity-led agric output growth. This comes from knowledge, capacity, technology, and the kind of implements we use in our agriculture going forward. We need to build locally adaptive technologies, local institutions to be able to do agriculture in a way that will focus on productivity led growth.”

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Also, Deputy President, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Dr. Fadel Ndiame, who noted that Africa has made a lot of progress in increasing production, said what is required is a productivity-driven approach.

Ndiame said: “We need to stick to the whole value chain from production, processing, and consumption so as to produce better quality food”.

He however called on the need for smallholder farmers to be knowledgeable about agricultural practices so as to know exactly what the soil requires.

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