The latest report of the expert Montpellier Panel lays out a vision of agricultural growth for Sub-Saharan Africa that is resilient — able to withstand or recover from stresses and shocks. The report makes specific recommendations around resilient agriculture, resilient people and resilient markets.
Developing resilient agriculture will require technologies and practices that build on agro-ecological knowledge and enable smallholder farmers to counter environmental degradation and climate change in ways that maintain sustainable agricultural growth.
Examples include various forms of mixed cropping that enable more efficient use and cycling of soil nutrients, conservation farming, microdosing of fertilisers and herbicides, and integrated pest management.
These are proven technologies that draw on ecological principles. Some build on traditional practices, with numerous examples working on a small scale. In Zambia, conservation farming, a system of minimum or no-till agriculture with crop rotations, has reduced water requirements by up to 30 per cent and used new drought-tolerant hybrids to produce up to five tons of maize per hectare — five times the average yield for Sub-Saharan Africa.
The imperative now is scaling up such systems to reach more farmers.