What you need to know:
- Green revolution incentives should prioritise climate-resilient traditional crops like millet and sorghum.
- Production increases have come from farmers bringing new land under cultivation.
- In Kenya, agricultural productivity is dominated by the smallholder players.
Is it possible for Africa to have a green revolution and what would it be like?
The current green revolution model is hinged on the intensive use of synthetic fertilisers and toxic pesticides to drive food production.
But Africa needs investment in small irrigation, promotion of the use of composting, organic manure and the use of integrated pest and weed management.
Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (Agra) is spearheading efforts to green the continent, assess the progress.
Agra has received contributions of nearly Sh108.45 billion and has issued grants of more than Sh54.2 billion to promote its vision of a “modernised” African agriculture, freed from limited technology and low yields.
There is very little evidence that the programmes are benefiting 30 million smallholder households. It is largely benefiting larger-scale commercial farmers, mostly men, rather than smallholder women farmers.
Many small-scale food producers are moving away from the cultivation of traditional food towards hybrid crops. What are the consequences of this?
This has led to loss of our diversified traditional varieties. Reliance on maize, rice and potatoes leads to erosion of food security and nutrition for poor small-scale food producers.
Green revolution incentives should prioritise climate-resilient traditional crops like millet and sorghum.
What are the limitations of the input-intensive agricultural systems?
There is strong evidence of negative environmental impacts, including acidification of soils under monoculture cultivation with fossil fuel based synthetic fertilisers.
Production increases have come from farmers bringing new land under cultivation. Both aspects negatively affect climate change mitigation and adaptation.
How has Kenya fared in terms of implementing Agra’s model?
In Kenya, agricultural productivity is dominated by the smallholder players. We have seen a 4 per cent decline in maize yields, overall 7 per cent decline in staple yields, 40 per cent increase in number of undernourished, and a rise in undernourished.
We have also seen an increase in extreme poverty rate by 4 percentage points to 41 per cent.