The Implications of Agroecology and Conventional Agriculture for Food Security and the Environment in Africa
As global climate continues to change, changes need to be made in our production systems to ensure global food production. These constraints are daunting in Africa, as Africa is the most vulnerable region to climate change and variability. Agroecology provides a unique opportunity for Africa to achieve the twin challenges of food security and environmental resilience. This chapter aims at examining the relative contributions of agroecology and conventional agriculture towards resilient food security in Africa. The chapter examines the theoretical foundations and components of these two paradigms as well as their contributions to food security in Africa. This chapter also examines the likely benefits and challenges associated with these systems and discusses in an integrated manner which of these options offers the most likely resilient agricultural revolution for Africa. The methodology is based on a bibliometric review of publications in the grey and peer-reviewed literature on this subject. The compendium of 49 suitable studies was culled through search engines such as Google Scholar, Scopus, SCI, and ISI Web of Science. It is observed that agroecology needs more valorization to be able to match the yields of conventional agriculture in Africa. Since agriculture in Africa is mostly in the hands of smallholders, production is generally under natural conditions driven by limited access to conventional production inputs. Agroecology will require inputs from conventional production to be able to sustain production, except the system is valorized.
The Power of Social Capital to Address Structural Factors of Hunger
This essay contributes to the theory of the current crises of the world food system and agriculture, including persistent hunger. It is organized into seven chapters and develops the critical importance of social capital in ending hunger. The introduction highlights the importance of a theoretical understanding of this issue to address the well-known symptoms under the guidance of the FAO. Then, the commonly agreed upon five groups of structural factors of hunger are recalled: poverty; wars and pandemics; gender, age, and race; divided societies; and finally capitalist-driven economies including land grabbing. Thirdly, the concept of social capital is proposed as related to social networks and social systems, and the consequences of its neglect as a hunger parameter are explained. Agroecology, often considered the solution since 2008, is critically analyzed and compared with the food regime based on industrial agriculture. These two regimes are confronted with a third method, applying the morphological analyses invented by Zwicky. The surprising results are further developed into proposals on how social capital can be created and used to end hunger. The essay develops around the main discourses since the IAASTD report, the food crises of 2008, and the required transformation into more sustainable forms. Social science and the concepts of social systems are essential in this narrative. We see the underdeveloped social capital, particularly social networks and other local institutions related to national policies at the local and rural levels, as a critical parameter and indicator to predict hunger or food and nutrition insecurity. Empirical studies and experiments from the author’s research and work in Africa support this short and dense essay, hoping to contribute to a better understanding of ending hunger before 2050.
Eliminating Hunger: Yam for Improved Income and Food Security in West Africa
Yam, Dioscorea spp., is a valuable vegetatively propagated crop grown in many parts of the tropics. In West Africa, the species Dioscorea rotundata is a nutritious staple and provides food security and a means of livelihood to millions of people. Yam is produced mainly by smallholder farmers using local landraces with limited inputs. Increased annual production is attained by increasing the area while productivity is low and stagnated. Significant contributors to the low productivity include unavailability, high cost, poor quality of planting material, nematode and viral infections, and declining soil fertility. The multiplication ratio of yam in traditional production methods is low (1:3). Seed to replant the same size of field harvested consumes about a third of the total production, i.e., about 23.6 million tonnes out of 70.8 million tonnes of the annual production of the West African sub-region are reserved for planting the next crop. Improving the seed yam multiplication ratio and productivity will improve the availability of more yams for food. The initiative “Yam Improvement for Income and Food Security in West Africa (YIIFSWA)” has developed new strategies for improved propagation of quality yam planting materials and increased the multiplication ratio to 1:300 using nodal vine cuttings from plants produced in hydroponic systems instead of tubers, thereby releasing more tubers for food use. By using improved yam varieties with good agronomic practices as well as nematode and viral disease management, the productivity of yam is improved. These improvements have great potential to enhance food security and alleviate hunger and poverty.
Open for Submissions
Submission Deadline: 15 Sep 2023
Suggested chapter content
- Resilient and productive farming: farming practices including crops and livestock production
- Agro-ecology and food security: benefits, limits and challenges
- Diversification of food: introduction of new species/cultivars, development of new cultivars
- Contribution of neglected food crops to food security: opportunities and challenges
- Food and farming systems to combat malnutrition
- Challenges for food security: climate change, plagues, man-made conflicts, pandemic
- Physical and economic access to food including social and cultural considerations
- Systems/approaches to limiting food loss and food waste
- Challenges for zero hunger (SDG 2): link with other SDGs
- Success stories on eliminating hunger: project/programme reports, government strategies
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Each chapter in this edited book has been reviewed by the editor/s as well as an external expert who reviewed each chapter of the book and provided an overall review. The opinions expressed in the chapters do not reflect the view of the publisher.