Food Security in the Drylands of South Asia and Sub-saharan Africa: Research Challenges and Opportunities uri icon


  • Despite the significant agricultural research achievement that led to thegreen revolution, South Asia (SA) and Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) remain the hotspotsof food and nutrition insecurity in the world. One of the reasons behind this challengeis the failure of the green revolution to increase dramatically rainfed crop andlivestock productivity in SA. The green revolution achievement has also generallyeluded SSA despite the increased availability of high-yielding and risk-reducingcultivars and agricultural innovations. Many factors are attributable to the lack ofproductivity growth. This paper investigates the major factors that have contributedto the food insecurity in SA and SSA and forecasts the future of the food productionand consumption and their effect on food and nutrition security to the year 2020.Our projections of food production and consumption show that child malnutritionin SA is decreasing much faster than the case in SSA, due to increase in percapita income, female education and female life expectancy. Fast reduction in childmalnutrition is also possible in SSA if the countries invest significantly in improvementin agricultural production and in addressing the constraints that impede access tofood. The demand for livestock products has been increasing dramatically mainlydue to increasing income and urban population. The livestock sector also has alarge potential to achieve food and nutrition security in the drylands. Unfortunately,past research and development investments in livestock have not reflected the potentialand opportunities offered by the sector. Harnessing the potential of livestock wouldrequire developing suitable crop-livestock innovations to improve productivity. Eventhough returns to agricultural research investments have been high and have showna great potential to increase food security in both SA and SSA, government anddonor research funding has generally decreased in the SSA region where nationalcapacity is weak and underdeveloped. There is an urgent need to increase availabilityof funds to address the research challenges and harness the opportunities in thetwo regions. Returns to the research investment will also have multiplier effecton reducing food and nutrition insecurity if the support services ? such as extensionservices, market services, etc. ? are developed. Research also need to take seriouslyfarmer innovations which have shown great potential in developing technologieswell adapted to the drylands

publication date

  • 2007