Can sub-Saharan Africa feed itself?
This article (PDF), published by the PNAS Journal, presents a study that provides insight about the challenge in meeting the projected tripled cereal demand by 2050 due to expected population growth and modest changes in diets in 10 sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) countries, through scenarios of yield gap closure. Recent studies indicate that the global increase in food demand by 2050 can be met through closing the gap between current farm yield and yield potential on existing cropland. however, the authors of this article estimate that it will not be feasible to meet future SSA cereal demand on existing production area by yield gap closure alone. The agronomically robust yield gap analysis for 10 countries in SSA, using location-specific data and a spatial upscaling approach, reveals that in addition to yield gap closure, other more complex and uncertain components of intensification are also needed, that is to say, increasing cropping intensity (the number of crops grown per 12 mo on the same field) and sustainable expansion of irrigated production area. If intensification is not successful and massive cropland expansion is to be avoided, SSA will depend much more on imports of cereals than it does today.