Improved crop productivity for Africa’s drylands
This book (PDF) by the World Bank argues that the drylands in Africa have the potential to make a significant contribution to reducing vulnerability and increasing resilience. More than 200 million people living in dryland regions of Sub-Saharan Africa make their living from agriculture. Most are exposed to weather shocks, especially drought, that can decimate their incomes, destroy their assets, and plunge them into a poverty trap from which it is difficult to emerge. Opportunities exist to improve the fortunes of farming households in the drylands. Improved farming technologies that can increase and stabilize the production of millet, sorghum, maize, and other leading staples are available. Yet many of these opportunities have not been exploited on a large scale, for reasons that include lack of farmer knowledge, nonavailability of inputs, unfavorable price incentives, high levels of production risk, and high cost. Future production growth in drylands agriculture is expected to come mainly from raising yields and increasing the number of crop rotations on land that is already being cultivated (intensification), rather than from bringing new land into cultivation (extensification). Controlling for rainfall, average yields in rainfed cropping systems in Sub-Saharan Africa are still much lower than yields in rainfed cropping systems in other regions, suggesting that there is considerable scope to intensify production in these systems.