Implementing the millennium development food security goals – Challenges of the southern African context uri icon

abstract

  • The Millennium Development Goals? target to halve the proportion of people who suffer from hunger is extremely important in southern Africa, where food security has become increasingly problematic over the last 20 years. One ?quick-win? proposal is replenishment of soil nutrients for smallholder farmers, through free or subsidised chemical fertilisers. Other proposals include appropriate irrigation technology, improved inputs and interventions targeted at women.Analysis of over 10 years of agro-hydrological and agro-economic studies from southern African show that a different approach is required to interventions proposed. There are sustainability problems with free chemical fertiliser due to transport costs and ancillary costs. Furthermore, recent studies in Zimbabwe and Mozambique show that significant increases in yield can only be obtained when soil fertility management is combined with good crop husbandry, e.g. timely planting and weeding. Ongoing replenishment of fertility would be dependent on a continued free or subsidised fertiliser supply, and transport system. Increasing access to irrigation will help, but is not the only solution and cannot reach even a majority of farmers. It has been determined that short dryspells are often the major cause of low yields in sub-Saharan Africa. Soil?water conservation approaches, e.g. winter weeding and conservation tillage, can reduce risk and increase yield

publication date

  • 2006
  • 2006