For years since the civilization of Africa, food insecurity has been a thorn that the governments of the continent are yet to possess the ability to pluck. The continent highly relies on rain-fed agriculture which has grown overly erratic in recent years due to changing rainfall patterns and extreme climatic conditions. In a report by the Malabo Montpellier Panel, expanding irrigation can help African farmers produce twice as much food. The research was conducted towards the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nation’s Malabo Declaration and African Union’s Agenda 2063.
About the Malabo-Montpellier Panel and Forum.
The Malabo-Montpellier Panel convenes 17 leading experts in agriculture, ecology, nutrition and food security to provide guidelines to African governments towards sustainability in food nutrition and food security in Africa. Over the years, the panel has conducted numerous research to gear the continent toward improvement in food nutrition and security.
The Malabo-Montpellier Forum provides a platform to facilitate dialogue and exchange among various concerned parties including the panel on agriculture, food security and nutrition in Africa.
Facts of the Research.
Growing Population – Africa has one of the highest rising population figures in the world. Without additional investment in irrigation, the share of people at risk of hunger could increase by 5 per cent by 2030 and 12 per cent by 2050. A growing population demands a more, reliable and continuous supply of food.
Rain-fed Agriculture is Unreliable – The whole world has come to the discovery that drastic changes in weather patterns make rain-fed agriculture inefficient. Other continents have adjusted accordingly with 14% of Latin America cultivation land under irrigation already and 37% of Asia while in Africa, only 6%.
Elevation of Irrigation is a top priority – It is clear that the continent is in desperate need of an agricultural transformation to ensure the problem of food insecurity is solved permanently even in adverse weather conditions. Irrigation can assure African farmers to double the amount of food if implemented appropriately.
Opportunities for Innovation in Irrigation – there are innovations that can substantially increase countries’ irrigation potential. Although many new technologies are still out of reach for most smallholder farmers, there is potential to bring them to scale and make them more affordable and accessible
Sustainable usage of water and energy – With irrigation, comes the task to ensure that water and energy are used sustainably. This brings in the concept of proper implementation of irrigation schemes all over the continent. The report identifies modern technology as a means of achievement for this endeavour.
Improved Livelihoods – The report points out that in regions where the rainy seasons are the only farming seasons, irrigation will fill in for the gaps and ensure a continuous growing season throughout the year, therefore increasing productivity and by default, improving the livelihoods of communities around the continent.
Funding and Commercialization of Irrigation – One of the biggest obstacles to expanding irrigation schemes across Africa remains access to finance. This applies equally to small-scale and farmer-led as well as medium and large-scale government-led irrigation systems. The report suggested cooperation between governments and businesses in order to achieve effective funding for farmers.
Human health – The report points out the importance of technologies implemented in this project to be fitting to their environments to avoid possible harm to human health or the environment.
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