Identifying the future of agri-food systems in Africa
Feeding the world by 2050 could prove to be challenging if shifts in agricultural production are not taken into consideration, especially with regard to farming practices.
This was according to Prof Tim Benton, co-project leader of the Agricultural and Food Systems Resilience: Increasing Capacity and Advising Policy (GCRF-AFRICAP), who spoke at the Climate Smart Agriculture Future Scenarios workshop hosted by the National Agricultural Marketing Council in Pretoria recently.
As part of a research project by the UK’s Global Challenges Research Fund and GCRF-AFRICAP, workshops were currently being presented in Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zambia to identify the future of agri-food systems in each country. The project aimed to identify and implement evidence-based policy pathways to facilitate the development of sustainable, productive, climatesmart agricultural systems in order to meet food security and economic development needs, he said.
Benton added that researchers would work with a range of highlevel stakeholders in each country to design the scenarios and sustainable development pathways. These would, for example, assist with determining how much water and land would be available for production.
“A range of tools will be developed to understand what will be needed to get from where each country is today, and identify a best-practice baseline,” he said.
“Finding potential pathways requires an understanding of how the weather will change, and what characteristics will be needed for resilient agriculture.”
Some of these would be determined through the use of technology that could become available; others would be determined by what policies could be put in place to help the food system move in the desired direction.
These pathways would be used to design, implement and evaluate policies on the ground in special agricultural zones with controlled trial stations and on-farm sites. The potential for policy interventions would also be determined, he said.
A draft of the different scenarios for the project would be shared with various stakeholders before the end of the year to facilitate further talks. The project would run until July 2022, Benton said. – Siyanda Sishuba