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.

Related Stories:

Young Women in Africa Reach Diverse Dreams With Help From This Organization

African Communities Abandon Female Circumcision, But Its Not Over

U.S. Presidents Trip to Africa Good for Its People and Its Wildlife

Photo provided by Aid for Africa

Love This? Never Miss Another Story.


Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

Fred Hoekstra
Fred Hoekstra2 years ago

Thank you Aid for Africa, for Sharing this!

Lincoln Saugstad
Lincoln Saugstad2 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 :)

Lincoln Saugstad
Lincoln Saugstad2 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

Kristof Nordin
Kristof Nordin2 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.

Kristof Nordin
Kristof Nordin2 years ago

Ironically, the post-WWII 'green revolution' has actually served to turn much of the African continent brown. In Malawi, where I live, the green revolution's focus on the chemical-based monocropping of hybrid seeds has meant that traditionally seasonal, diverse, and free agriculture has been transformed into an expensive attempt to produce of only a handful of introduced crops at one time of the year. Most of Malawians now farm maize (corn), and try to harvest all of their food for the entire year in one month (April). In a tropical country where seasonal crops can be harvested throughout the year, we are now leaving our fields to stand in an idle state of uselessness for 11 out of 12 months. When the rains come in December and people have planted maize, their annual reserves from the previous season generally run short and the current crop is not ready for harvesting...this is the time which has become known as our chronic 'hungry season'. Right in the midst of the most agriculturally productive time of the entire year the ‘green revolution’ has left many people starving instead of celebrating in an abundance of natural resources. 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

Lincoln Saugstad
Lincoln Saugstad2 years ago

From "The Whole Earth Discipline", part of the "Green Revolution" taking place in Africa funded by the Gates and Rockefeller foundation is into research of genetically engineered crops. I would recommend anyone who is fearful and unaware of beneficial effects of these controversial matters to look into it. Written by Steward Brand, the author who brought the "green bible"of the 60s & 70s "Whole Earth Catalog"

Dimitris Dallis
Dimitris Dallis2 years ago

And it would be even better a green revolution all over the world!

Dimitris Dallis
Dimitris Dallis2 years ago

I think more or less all in care2 agree on that :)

Nimue Pendragon
Nimue Pendragon2 years ago