Cereals account for 50% of the total calories and crop-land in SubSaharan Africa (SSA). Demand for cereals, including maize, wheat, millet, rice and sorghum, is expected to triple by 2050 as the population rapidly grows. To ensure future food security, yields must reach 80% of their potential, while they currently sit around 20-40%. Self-sufficiency in SSA  is also important, as lower income countries cannot always rely on imports. At the same time, reaching yield goals through agricultural expansion and unrestrained chemical input use should be avoided, as this would contribute further to the climate crisis. Foresight methods have been used to better understand this conundrum. Models indicate that intensification through efficient fertilizer, including effective nutrient management in soils over the course of years, would reduce emissions as compared to crop area expansion. Sustainable intensification could also involve a win-win for smallholder farmers in terms of profitability. Additional research, however, is needed to support effective nutrient management and climate-smart agronomic practices, particularly in the context of smallholder crop production. Studies must consider farmer constraints and institutional landscapes, and agronomy research must be complemented by policy and socio-economic studies. To learn more, read the full brief.

To read the “The Future of Low-emission Sustainable Cereal Intensification in SubSaharan Africa” full brief, visit: https://doi.org/10.31235/osf.io/h6j4f