Can sub-Saharan Africa feed itself?

Martin K. Van Ittersum, Lenny G.J. Van Bussel, Joost Wolf, Patricio Grassini, Justin Van Wart, Nicolas Guilpart, Lieven Claessens, Hugo de Groot, Keith Wiebe, Daniel Mason-d’Croz, Haishun Yang, Hendrik Boogaard, Pepijn A.J. van Oort, Marloes P. van Loon, Kazuki Saito, Ochieng Adimo, Samuel Adjei-Nsiah, Alhassane Agali, Abdullahi Bala, Regis Chikowo & 6 others Kayuki Kaizzi, Mamoutou Kouressy, Joachim H.J.R. Makoi, Korodjouma Ouattara, Kindie Tesfaye, Kenneth G. Cassman

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151 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Although global food demand is expected to increase 60% by 2050 compared with 2005/2007, the rise will be much greater in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Indeed, SSA is the region at greatest food security risk because by 2050 its population will increase 2.5-fold and demand for cereals approximately triple, whereas current levels of cereal consumption already depend on substantial imports. At issue is whether SSA can meet this vast increase in cereal demand without greater reliance on cereal imports or major expansion of agricultural area and associated biodiversity loss and greenhouse gas emissions. Recent studies indicate that the global increase in food demand by 2050 can be met through closing the gap between current farm yield and yield potential on existing cropland. Here, however, we estimate it will not be feasible to meet future SSA cereal demand on existing production area by yield gap closure alone. Our agronomically robust yield gap analysis for 10 countries in SSA using location-specific data and a spatial upscaling approach reveals that, in addition to yield gap closure, other more complex and uncertain components of intensification are also needed, i.e., increasing cropping intensity (the number of crops grown per 12 mo on the same field) and sustainable expansion of irrigated production area. If intensification is not successful and massive cropland land expansion is to be avoided, SSA will depend much more on imports of cereals than it does today.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14964-14969
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume113
Issue number52
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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Sub-Saharan Africa
imports
greenhouse gas emissions
food security
biodiversity
farms
crops

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Van Ittersum, Martin K. ; Van Bussel, Lenny G.J. ; Wolf, Joost ; Grassini, Patricio ; Van Wart, Justin ; Guilpart, Nicolas ; Claessens, Lieven ; de Groot, Hugo ; Wiebe, Keith ; Mason-d’Croz, Daniel ; Yang, Haishun ; Boogaard, Hendrik ; van Oort, Pepijn A.J. ; van Loon, Marloes P. ; Saito, Kazuki ; Adimo, Ochieng ; Adjei-Nsiah, Samuel ; Agali, Alhassane ; Bala, Abdullahi ; Chikowo, Regis ; Kaizzi, Kayuki ; Kouressy, Mamoutou ; Makoi, Joachim H.J.R. ; Ouattara, Korodjouma ; Tesfaye, Kindie ; Cassman, Kenneth G. / Can sub-Saharan Africa feed itself?. In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2016 ; Vol. 113, No. 52. pp. 14964-14969.
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title = "Can sub-Saharan Africa feed itself?",
abstract = "Although global food demand is expected to increase 60{\%} by 2050 compared with 2005/2007, the rise will be much greater in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Indeed, SSA is the region at greatest food security risk because by 2050 its population will increase 2.5-fold and demand for cereals approximately triple, whereas current levels of cereal consumption already depend on substantial imports. At issue is whether SSA can meet this vast increase in cereal demand without greater reliance on cereal imports or major expansion of agricultural area and associated biodiversity loss and greenhouse gas emissions. Recent studies indicate that the global increase in food demand by 2050 can be met through closing the gap between current farm yield and yield potential on existing cropland. Here, however, we estimate it will not be feasible to meet future SSA cereal demand on existing production area by yield gap closure alone. Our agronomically robust yield gap analysis for 10 countries in SSA using location-specific data and a spatial upscaling approach reveals that, in addition to yield gap closure, other more complex and uncertain components of intensification are also needed, i.e., increasing cropping intensity (the number of crops grown per 12 mo on the same field) and sustainable expansion of irrigated production area. If intensification is not successful and massive cropland land expansion is to be avoided, SSA will depend much more on imports of cereals than it does today.",
author = "{Van Ittersum}, {Martin K.} and {Van Bussel}, {Lenny G.J.} and Joost Wolf and Patricio Grassini and {Van Wart}, Justin and Nicolas Guilpart and Lieven Claessens and {de Groot}, Hugo and Keith Wiebe and Daniel Mason-d’Croz and Haishun Yang and Hendrik Boogaard and {van Oort}, {Pepijn A.J.} and {van Loon}, {Marloes P.} and Kazuki Saito and Ochieng Adimo and Samuel Adjei-Nsiah and Alhassane Agali and Abdullahi Bala and Regis Chikowo and Kayuki Kaizzi and Mamoutou Kouressy and Makoi, {Joachim H.J.R.} and Korodjouma Ouattara and Kindie Tesfaye and Cassman, {Kenneth G.}",
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Van Ittersum, MK, Van Bussel, LGJ, Wolf, J, Grassini, P, Van Wart, J, Guilpart, N, Claessens, L, de Groot, H, Wiebe, K, Mason-d’Croz, D, Yang, H, Boogaard, H, van Oort, PAJ, van Loon, MP, Saito, K, Adimo, O, Adjei-Nsiah, S, Agali, A, Bala, A, Chikowo, R, Kaizzi, K, Kouressy, M, Makoi, JHJR, Ouattara, K, Tesfaye, K & Cassman, KG 2016, 'Can sub-Saharan Africa feed itself?', Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 113, no. 52, pp. 14964-14969. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1610359113

Can sub-Saharan Africa feed itself? / Van Ittersum, Martin K.; Van Bussel, Lenny G.J.; Wolf, Joost; Grassini, Patricio; Van Wart, Justin; Guilpart, Nicolas; Claessens, Lieven; de Groot, Hugo; Wiebe, Keith; Mason-d’Croz, Daniel; Yang, Haishun; Boogaard, Hendrik; van Oort, Pepijn A.J.; van Loon, Marloes P.; Saito, Kazuki; Adimo, Ochieng; Adjei-Nsiah, Samuel; Agali, Alhassane; Bala, Abdullahi; Chikowo, Regis; Kaizzi, Kayuki; Kouressy, Mamoutou; Makoi, Joachim H.J.R.; Ouattara, Korodjouma; Tesfaye, Kindie; Cassman, Kenneth G.

In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol. 113, No. 52, 2016, p. 14964-14969.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Can sub-Saharan Africa feed itself?

AU - Van Ittersum, Martin K.

AU - Van Bussel, Lenny G.J.

AU - Wolf, Joost

AU - Grassini, Patricio

AU - Van Wart, Justin

AU - Guilpart, Nicolas

AU - Claessens, Lieven

AU - de Groot, Hugo

AU - Wiebe, Keith

AU - Mason-d’Croz, Daniel

AU - Yang, Haishun

AU - Boogaard, Hendrik

AU - van Oort, Pepijn A.J.

AU - van Loon, Marloes P.

AU - Saito, Kazuki

AU - Adimo, Ochieng

AU - Adjei-Nsiah, Samuel

AU - Agali, Alhassane

AU - Bala, Abdullahi

AU - Chikowo, Regis

AU - Kaizzi, Kayuki

AU - Kouressy, Mamoutou

AU - Makoi, Joachim H.J.R.

AU - Ouattara, Korodjouma

AU - Tesfaye, Kindie

AU - Cassman, Kenneth G.

PY - 2016

Y1 - 2016

N2 - Although global food demand is expected to increase 60% by 2050 compared with 2005/2007, the rise will be much greater in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Indeed, SSA is the region at greatest food security risk because by 2050 its population will increase 2.5-fold and demand for cereals approximately triple, whereas current levels of cereal consumption already depend on substantial imports. At issue is whether SSA can meet this vast increase in cereal demand without greater reliance on cereal imports or major expansion of agricultural area and associated biodiversity loss and greenhouse gas emissions. Recent studies indicate that the global increase in food demand by 2050 can be met through closing the gap between current farm yield and yield potential on existing cropland. Here, however, we estimate it will not be feasible to meet future SSA cereal demand on existing production area by yield gap closure alone. Our agronomically robust yield gap analysis for 10 countries in SSA using location-specific data and a spatial upscaling approach reveals that, in addition to yield gap closure, other more complex and uncertain components of intensification are also needed, i.e., increasing cropping intensity (the number of crops grown per 12 mo on the same field) and sustainable expansion of irrigated production area. If intensification is not successful and massive cropland land expansion is to be avoided, SSA will depend much more on imports of cereals than it does today.

AB - Although global food demand is expected to increase 60% by 2050 compared with 2005/2007, the rise will be much greater in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Indeed, SSA is the region at greatest food security risk because by 2050 its population will increase 2.5-fold and demand for cereals approximately triple, whereas current levels of cereal consumption already depend on substantial imports. At issue is whether SSA can meet this vast increase in cereal demand without greater reliance on cereal imports or major expansion of agricultural area and associated biodiversity loss and greenhouse gas emissions. Recent studies indicate that the global increase in food demand by 2050 can be met through closing the gap between current farm yield and yield potential on existing cropland. Here, however, we estimate it will not be feasible to meet future SSA cereal demand on existing production area by yield gap closure alone. Our agronomically robust yield gap analysis for 10 countries in SSA using location-specific data and a spatial upscaling approach reveals that, in addition to yield gap closure, other more complex and uncertain components of intensification are also needed, i.e., increasing cropping intensity (the number of crops grown per 12 mo on the same field) and sustainable expansion of irrigated production area. If intensification is not successful and massive cropland land expansion is to be avoided, SSA will depend much more on imports of cereals than it does today.

U2 - 10.1073/pnas.1610359113

DO - 10.1073/pnas.1610359113

M3 - Article

VL - 113

SP - 14964

EP - 14969

JO - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

JF - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

SN - 0027-8424

IS - 52

ER -