Sustainable Developments: The African Green Revolution; May 2008; Scientific American Magazine; by Jeffrey D. Sachs; 1 Page(s)
Africa needs a green revolution. Food yields on the continent are roughly one metric ton of grain per hectare of cultivated land, a figure little changed from 50 years ago and roughly one third of the yields achieved on other continents. In low-income regions elsewhere in the world, the introduction of high-yield seeds, fertilizer and small-scale irrigation boosted food productivity beginning in the mid-1960s and opened the escape route from extreme poverty for huge populations. A similar takeoff in sub-Saharan Africa is both an urgent priority and a real possibility.
Until this change happens, Africa's vast rural areas, which are home to two thirds of its population, will remain mired in poverty, hunger and high child mortality and will stay isolated from the world market economy. Proven technologies--high-yield seeds, new water-management techniques and ways to replenish soil nutrients--are already achieving three to five tons per hectare in many parts of Africa but too often only in small demonstration projects.