twitter RSS Feed linkedin acp contact

Agriculture flourishes in Africa

Modern farming methods are helping farmers buffer themselves from the harsh consequences of adverse weather and unfavourable market conditions with a new philosophy; high-yield seeds

Agriculture, flourishes, Africa, Ewan, Thomson, Fleckvieh, farming, Napier, grass, desmodium, kale, greenhouses, agri-alliance, cropsModern farming methods are helping farmers buffer themselves from the harsh consequences of adverse weather and unfavourable market conditions with a new philosophy; high-yield seeds

 

Agra-alliance reported a 3.5 per cent increase in food production for Africa in 2008. This was attributed to high-yield crops. In Kenya, high-yield crops and investments in pest control and new technology are showing rapid signs of increased productivity; in some cases yields have increased by eight times the amount based on the same acreage.

As is often the case with African agriculture, water is an important consideration. In Eastern Kenya, farmers have traditionally farmed with seasonal rains but a big step forward for many in the last five years has been the introduction of supplemental watering, with one study by Improved Management of Agricultural Water in Eastern & Southern Africa (IMAWESA) showing that basic technologies such as drip irrigation were improving yields by between 20 and 500 per cent.

Yet water has been only one of a raft of parallel elements increasing yields. Cumulative sample data collected by the Ministry of Agriculture in Thika West District from 2005 to 2008 shows consistent patterns of increases.

 

Kale production

Kale production rose 55 per cent in 2006, another 20 per cent in 2007 and a further 30 per cent in 2008. Tomato production in the district likewise rose 20 per cent in 2006, 2007 and 2008 before dipping due to drought in 2009.

These are not isolated examples of small investment reaping impressive dividends. Local companies supplying seeds and technologies report an overall rise in demand for yield-raising inputs of between 30 and 40 per cent in the last three years.

High yield seeds need to be coupled with farm management practices – next generation farmers are looking towards technology to increase their profit margins. Greenhouse technology, a standard in the multinational flower industry has now been miniaturised to accommodate smallholders, even in urban settings.

 

Greenhouses

For around Sh45,000, a smallholder can get a Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (Kari) greenhouse measuring six by 15 metres and built of wood, net and polythene materials. Sh140,000 gets the smallholder a metallic version measuring eight by 15 metres that holds around 600 tomato plants.

To farmers embracing greenhouses, as opposed to outdoor farming, crops are guaranteed uniform maturity and over 90 per cent of yield all year. The greenhouses also offer protection from pests and weather fluctuations. A tomato plant grown outdoors in cold climates is vulnerable to pests and destruction; it can result in seasonal yields of less than 10kgs. A farmers initial tomato harvest in a greenhouse can be 15 to 20kgs and by the time the plant completes its full year cycle, yields can top 60kgs.

Pest control is also being modernised – creative solutions are increasing yields substantially for mango growers, for example, where wasps have been introduced to mango orchards, protecting them from the fruit flies.

 

Intercropping

Farmers are also intercropping with crops that provide a hostile environment to pests that often attack a main crop. One such technique is the push-pull method where maize is intercropped with silver leaf desmodium, a fodder legume, Napier grass and Sudan grass. This technique stops the stem borer, with farmers reporting a six-fold increase in maize fields. Napier grass can also be sold as animal feed.

Livestock farmers are also turning to higher yield breeds. Fleckvieh, the European cow which is both a prolific milk producer and builds a body mass quicker that the Fresian equivalent show simple changes at the early stages of agricultural planning can return dividends of greater output and reduced costs. Initial investments are also low, adding to the growing notion that there is a future in Africa for high yield crops.

 

Ewan Thomson


LATEST NEWS IN Agriculture

African food imports bill predicted to double by 2030

African food imports bill predicted to d…

Experts have warned that the cost of Africa’s yearly food imports could increase from US$50bn to US$110bn by 2030 if immediate measures aren’t taken to increase food production

Wildlife and forestry sector in the spotlight

Wildlife and forestry sector in the spot…

On August 22, the 23rd session of the African Forestry and Wildlife Commission, hosted by the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo opened in Kinshasa, putting the future...

Boosting investment for Africa-made cotton

Boosting investment for Africa-made cott…

At a partner’s conference on cotton, jointly organised with the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), donors were urged to mobilise resources for new partnerships.   

Nature-based solutions help farmers in Ghana

Nature-based solutions help farmers in G…

Organic pesticides, waste-based fertilisers and forest regeneration are just a few of the green initiatives being employed in Ghana to boost farming communities’ resilience to the impacts of climate...

Boosting soil nutrient mapping in sub-Saharan Africa

Boosting soil nutrient mapping in sub-Sa…

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is set to fast track an impact-oriented project in sub-Saharan Africa and Central America for digital soil nutrient mapping, after...

Gambia-Korea partnership seeks to double rice production to curb food insecurity

Gambia-Korea partnership seeks to double…

President Adama Barrow has received a delegation led by the Korean Ambassador to The Gambia, HE Kim Ji-Joon, at the State House in Banjul to announce the delivery of sample rice...

Prev Next

OTHER RELATED ARTICLES - Agriculture

New drought-tolerant maize variety developed in Kenya

New drought-tolerant maize variety devel…

The African Agriculture Technology Foundation (AATF), in collaboration with Crop Africa Seeds, has developed a drought tolerant maize variety for Kenyan farmers

Ethiopia to resume teff exports after ban lifted

Ethiopia to resume teff exports after ba…

The Ethiopian government plans to lift ban on the export of local gluten-free grain teff

AfDB, FAO and South Sudan’s government partner to boost agricultural markets

AfDB, FAO and South Sudan’s government p…

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has signed protocols to disburse a US$14mn grant to the government of South Sudan to boost agricultural markets in a project to be implemented by...

Zimbabwe cotton farmers and ginners yet to break impasse

Zimbabwe cotton farmers and ginners yet …

Zimbabwe's cotton marketing season has failed to kick off due to a price war between farmers and buyers

East Africa dairy farmers benefit from agricultural training

East Africa dairy farmers benefit from a…

East African farmers have benefitted from agricultural training, with the volume of milk sold by farmers in the East Africa Dairy Development (EADD) project increasing by 102 per cent over...

Bee colonies disappearance: Special programme to support Morocco's affected beekeepers

Bee colonies disappearance: Special prog…

Morocco’s ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Rural Development and Water and Forestry has announced a special programme developed to support beekeepers affected by the phenomenon of disappearance of bee colonies, noted recently in some regions 

Farmers lobby calls for Kenya agriculture policy change

Farmers lobby calls for Kenya agricultur…

Representatives of the Kenyan agricultural sector have called for a review of government policy

WCDoA distributes fodder support to Western Cape farmers

WCDoA distributes fodder support to West…

The Western Cape Department of Agriculture (WCDoA) has distributed around US$5,51,490 in fodder support to 1727 farmers located in extreme or critically extreme drought areas in the Western Cape

Emergency seeds, fertiliser help Lesotho farmers deal with impact of COVID-19

Emergency seeds, fertiliser help Lesotho…

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has sent potato seeds and fertilisers to many households in Lesotho to protect agricultural livelihoods, under the project ‘Special Programme for Food Security in...

AgDevCo’s initiative to boost smallholder farmer incomes in Africa

AgDevCo’s initiative to boost smallholde…

AgDevCo, in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation, has announced a US$15.4mn initiative to boost the incomes of smallholder farmers in seven African countries

AGCO Agriculture Foundation unveils Africa Agribusiness Qualification programme

AGCO Agriculture Foundation unveils Afri…

The AGCO Agriculture Foundation (AAF) has launched the Africa Agribusiness Qualification (AAQ) programme for Africans who want to contribute to Africa’s Agenda 2063 for food security, nutrition, and the agricultural...

South Africa and Bangladesh discuss agricultural cooperation

South Africa and Bangladesh discuss agri…

Thoko Didiza, South African minister and member of parliament met Dr Abdul Momen, minister of foreign affairs in Bangladesh, to discuss agricultural cooperation between the two countries

Prev Next