Research Topic

New Innovations for Sustainable Intensification of Smallholder Cropping Systems in Sub-Sahara Africa (SSA)

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The global population is projected to increase to 9 billion by mid-century, with Africa’s population doubling in the next 40 years. In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), this increasingly urbanizing population growth has failed to match equivalent increments in yields of the major crops, with increased production ...

The global population is projected to increase to 9 billion by mid-century, with Africa’s population doubling in the next 40 years. In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), this increasingly urbanizing population growth has failed to match equivalent increments in yields of the major crops, with increased production resulting rather from agricultural area expansion, very often at the expense of the natural resource base, such as carbon-rich and bio-diverse forest land. Because of increasing population and high population density, the need to grow more food without depleting important natural resources makes the intensification of African agriculture essential. The intensification of land use in SSA has not only led to land degradation but increase in the incident of pest and diseases with resultant reduction in systems productivity. Concerns about declining organic matter content, deficiencies of macro and micro nutrients and loss of balance between organic and inorganic manures and fertilizers and unbalanced use of nutrients have raised the issues of sustainability to the fore. The use of green revolution approach to raise crop productivity through the deployment of improved varieties, water and fertilizer have largely failed in SSA. The sustainable intensification of agriculture in SSA has therefore gained support particularly in densely populated areas where natural fallows are no longer feasible. Sustainable intensification (SI) has been defined as a form of production wherein “yields are increased without adverse environmental impact and without the cultivation of more land”. Over the years research by international and national research organizations have produced several innovations for deployment and dissemination among smallholders farmers in Africa. This Research Topic in Frontiers in Plant Science highlights results of research to generate innovation to increase the productivity of African smallholder farming systems without degrading the natural resource base.


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