GM seeds fall on stony ground in Africa

In the middle of the last century, high-yielding varieties of rice, wheat and maize were introduced across much of the developing world, transforming agriculture. But the Green Revolution passed Africa by, however.

The World Today Published 1 August 2014 Updated 4 March 2021 2 minute READ

Rob Bailey

Former Director, Energy, Environment and Resources Programme

Since 1960, per capita cereal output in Asia has increased by 44 per cent and in South America by 48 per cent despite rapid population growth. In Africa it has declined by 13 per cent.

Africa has waited too long for its own agricultural revolution. Crop yields are often a fraction of those achieved elsewhere. Three quarters of those people in extreme poverty – existing on less than $1.25 a day – live in rural areas. Increasing farm productivity could help close Africa’s yield gap and raise both farm incomes and food availability.

Africa’s revolution must do more than simply improve productivity, however; it must also build resilience to climate change, which threatens to devastate African crop yields.

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