Minimum emission pathways to triple Africa’s cereal production by 2050
This info note (PDF) by CIMMYT, WUR, and CCAFS-CGIAR summarizes results of three recent studies that assessed whether SSA can be self-sufficient in cereals by 2050 under different scenarios of intensification on existing cereal area. Cereals play a central role in food security in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), where they account for approximately 50% of caloric intake and total crop area. Increases in cereal yields are very slow in most SSA countries and agricultural area expansion is still an important means to keep up with the growing demand, causing losses of forests or grasslands, thereby reducing carbon stocks. Demand for five cereals (maize, millet, rice, sorghum and wheat) is projected to increase between 2015 and 2050 due to population increase and dietary changes. To meet this demand, SSA could achieve selfsufficiency in 2050 using existing cereal cropland area, but only just so. Yields would have to increase from current levels, which are about 20-40% of the agronomic yield potential under rainfed conditions, to ca. 80% of that potential. This is an unprecedented rate of yield increase for rainfed systems in the world. To enable the required yield increases, crop nutrient requirements will have to increase enormously, equivalent to a 15-fold increase between 2015 and 2050. If cereal demand will be fulfilled in SSA, by 2050, greenhouse gas emissions from cereal production will be at least 50% higher than in 2015 due to the larger production, regardless
whether scenarios of intensification or crop area expansion will be followed. Intensification of cereal production with sufficient and efficient use of fertilizers will lead to lowest GHG emissions, but requires excellent agronomy, including the use of well-adapted cultivars, proper planting densities, good nutrient management and crop protection against weeds, pests and diseases. Supportive policies should include: 1) Improved physical infrastructure and financial mechanisms; 2) Intensify support to good agronomic crop and soil management and associated risk management; 3) Technical advisors should support farmers to use nutrient inputs efficiently.