It’s About Time for a Green Revolution for Africa

This is a guest post from Aid for Africa.

With Africa’s population expected to quadruple by the end of this century, will its struggling agricultural sector meet the demand?

Recently, Eleanor Whitehead, writing in Forbes, examined how philanthropists and the private sector are helping African farmers boost food production and overcome poor soils, non-existent irrigation systems and crumbling infrastructure.

A partnership between the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation is trying to spark a green revolution in Africa that finally kick-starts sustained, increased food production. The key is a “value chain,” which includes African-led research to identify and breed disease-resistant seeds and funding for local African companies to produce and sell the seeds. Begun in 2006, the effort is showing some success: improved seeds now comprise almost 90 percent of maize production in Malawi, Kenya and Zambia. In West Africa, cassava yields have increased by 40 percent.

With 60 percent of the world’s uncultivated arable land in located in Africa, it’s not surprising that agriculture is finally getting attention. African and Western governments are increasing investments in African agriculture, as are private investors like Cargill and Unilever. However, private interest is prompting civil society’s concern about land grabs that may push small holder farmers from their land and ultimately worsen Africa’s food problems.

Whitehead doesn’t mention the important role nonprofit organizations and small businesses play in giving communities the skills they need to jump-start their own gardens and farms. Development in Gardening, an Aid for Africa member, is doing just that as it partners with African hospitals, schools and orphanages to plant and maintain sustainable community gardens that provide nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables. Many of the beneficiaries are HIV/AIDS patients whose treatment relies on good nutrition.

Pangeo Coffee, a small Colorado coffee company, sells coffee from Ethiopia and Kenya, then uses the proceeds to teach African villagers low cost, low tech, locally available ways to improve health and nutrition, start businesses and improve agriculture.

All signs suggest that investment in African agriculture at all levels bodes well for Africa’s future.

Read more about Bill Gates’ work in Africa.

Learn more about Aid for Africa members working in agriculture.

Aid for Africa is an alliance of 85 U.S.-based nonprofits and their African partners who help children, families, and communities throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. Aid for Africas grassroots programs focus on health, education, economic development, arts & culture, conservation, and wildlife protection in Africa.

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Photo provided by Aid for Africa

59 comments

Jeanne R
Jeanne R1 months ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Jeanne R
Jeanne R1 months ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Jeanne R
Jeanne R1 months ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Jeanne R
Jeanne R1 months ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Jeanne R
Jeanne R1 months ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

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Fred Hoekstra
Fred Hoekstra3 years ago

Thank you Aid for Africa, for Sharing this!

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Lincoln Saugstad
Lincoln Saugstad3 years ago

they are trying develop varieties that can make up for a lot of nutritional deficiencies missing from the avg diet, like protein, that people might not be able to access as readily. Also these are charity funded projects and driven more out of a concern for human life and well being than a financial one (Gates is/was the richest guy in the world, think that guy really needs/wants any more money! He's given most of it away to projects like these anyway) this is all to the best of my knowledge. obviously your country is still seeing the effects of the radical principals of the post WWII era, but this is the 21st century, there are a f*#@ing lot of intelligent people out there changing the world to the way we want to see it, people are aware

Anyway curious to know your perspective as I am not completely familiar and my only access is through information. Just thought you maybe weren't aware of other views, people easily become emotionally charged and just argue from one side of the rinc :)

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Lincoln Saugstad
Lincoln Saugstad3 years ago

@kristof n hmm so if that is the solution why are Malawians relying on a so-called 'unnatural' method of production, when they could be living normal "healthy" lives with traditional, open-pollinated, seasonal, perennial crops? Maybe it's not always possible. After all it's not post-WWII anymore, it's the 21st century, people are waking up. You obviously seem to know more on the subject than I do since I'm not on the ground, so i won't pretend that I do, but I have been exposed to a progressive awareness and development towards exactly that kind of living system by organizations like the Gates and Rockefeller foundations, and towards supporting small-based homestead farming type practices, with an awareness that exactly these kinds of production are most profitable and benefial to the parties concerned.

I know there is also a lot of negative attention but it seems like the intentions are moving in the right direction, with support for African based research organizations, developing regional, local varieties of crops, that will be more drought resistant, will need less external inputs such as fertilizers and be more nutritious for example, also connecting small-scale farmers with distribution companies so that there is a guaranteed demand, taking away the risk and burden, to travel, transport and sell crops individually at market. With cassava, it being one of the main staples as you probably are already aware of, and easily available, they are trying develop varieties t

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Kristof Nordin
Kristof Nordin3 years ago

(continued from first post which seemed to get cut off)...This new ‘green revolution,’ which is being promoted by the likes of the Gate’s Foundation and AGRA (Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa), is again being aimed at the intensification of monocropping, but this time through an emphasis on genetic engineering to adapt plants and animals to the problems that we, as humans, are creating. Malawi’s over-emphasis on only eating maize has left us with a nutritional stunting rate of 47% for children under the age of 5—almost half the nation! This has nothing to do with the genetic make-up of maize, it is a reflection of the under-utilization of diversified and nutritious agricultural systems. A true ‘green revolution,’ would serve to re-integrate many of Africa’s well-adapted traditional resources into seasonal systems of naturally open-pollinated and perennial crops which provide year-round access to nutritional diversity. This is how we end malnutrition and food insecurity throughout the continent (and the world), not by genetically engineering one crop from Central America.

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