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The Role of Sustainable Intensification for Achieving Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa

Updated: Dec 27, 2021

“The Role of Sustainable Intensification for Achieving Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa”, an online Independent Dialogue promoted under the auspices of the UN/FAO Food Systems Summit took place online on July 19, 2021 from 2PM WAT / 3PM CEST / 4PM EAT.

By 2050, the world’s population could grow to 9.7 billion, food demand is expected to increase by 50% and global demand for grains such as maize, rice and wheat could increase by 70%.

In Africa, food insecurity has been raising in recent years and the continent is not on track to eliminate hunger by 2030. Population is growing rapidly and needs an abundant supply of affordable and nutritious food. On the other hand stakeholders such as small-scale farmers do not have the right incentives and access to investments for raising productivity. At the same time, agriculture is a major contributor to the balance of payments for African economies, and needs to meet both domestic demand as well as maintain its place in international trade.

How can we meet the food and nutrition demands of a rising population, without negative environmental and social consequences? (Summit Action Track 1 and 4).

Sustainable intensification is an approach that uses innovations to increase productivity on existing agricultural land with positive (or at least not detrimental) environmental and social impact. Both words, “sustainable” and “intensification,” carry equal weight.

The ambition for Sustainable Agricultural Intensification (SAI) can be reflected also in the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular: SDG 15 - Life on Land, which aims to sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and review land degradation and halt biodiversity loss; and SDG2 - Zero Hunger, which seeks to ensure sustainable food production systems and implement resilient agricultural practices that increase productivity and production, help maintain ecosystems, strengthen capacity for adaptation to climate change, extreme weather, drought, flooding and other disasters and that progressively improve land and soil quality and maintain genetic diversity.

If this ambition is to be realised, the efficiency with which existing resources are used has to be enhanced to ensure ecosystems services are maintained. Sustainability also requires ensuring social equity in the productive and environmental benefits from SAI, otherwise poorer sections of the farming population and women farmers risk being left behind by the promotion of intensification (Natural Resource Institute-NRI) Sustainable intensification can be achieved with a range of methods.

Food Systems Summit Dialogues offer a purposeful and organized forum for stakeholders to come together to share their roles in food systems, consider their impacts on others and find new ways to come together in support of the SDGs.

The Dialogue will discuss with representatives of Research and Academia, Civil Society and Farmers from Europe and different Sub-Saharan African Countries such as Burkina Faso, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia and Ghana, the challenges and the ways in which farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa can increase production of crops per unit of land, conserve or enhance important ecosystem services, improve resilience to shocks and stresses, while fostering livelihoods, equity and social capital to ensure a food security system for all.

Important remarks: This Independent Dialogue took place in accordance with the Food Systems Summit Principles of Engagement as well as in compliance with the Chatham House Rule: Participants were free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the Speaker(s), nor that of any other Participant, may be revealed.


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