News / Africa

Smallholder African Farmers Embrace Innovative Planting

Multimedia

Audio
Kim Lewis
A new report addressing Africa’s food and nutrition crisis offers smallholder farmers in Africa, a unique and simple way of producing more food sustainably while also preserving the environment.

The report entitled, Sustainable Intensification:  A Time to Rethink Africa is based on research conducted by the Montpellier Panel, an international group of agricultural experts based in London.  The report provided examples of successful projects, where the group along with local farmers, used innovative thinking to produce more food for a longer period of time, and at a lower cost to them.

Gordon Conway, professor of International Development at Imperial College in London and lead Montpellier panel member, explained how “sustainable intensification” works and why it is vital to all types of agricultural systems, including smallholder farmers in Africa.

“It basically arises because we need to produce more food, more incomes for poor farmers, and we need to produce more nutritious crops.  And so we have to intensify food production because we have a limited amount of food and a limited amount of water available,” explained Conway, who cautioned it has to be done in a sustainable fashion.

“So we have to do it in a way that uses moderate amounts of pesticide or fertilizer.  We have to do it in such a way that is resilient to climate change.  We have to do it in such a way that it reduces the amount of greenhouse gas emissions, and we have to do it in a way that improves environmental resources and natural capital,” noted Conway.  

He provided some success stories in Africa using sustainable intensification methods.  One example is in West Africa, particularly Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso where farmers are successfully using a method called micro-dosing.

“And what you do here, is you put the fertilizer in the cap of a soda bottle, it could be a Coca Cola or Pepsi Cola, or whatever bottle.  And you put that in the hole before you plant the seed of the maize or other crop.  That means you get the exactly the right amount of fertilizer to the plant and the plant grows very well and you get a high yield,” explained Conway.  He said this process also reduces the susceptibility to drought.

“So instead of spending a lot of money on a lot of fertilizer, and spreading it all over the land, you just buy precisely the amount of fertilizer you need for each plant before you put it in the hole,” explained Conway.  He said microdosing is catching on fast in West Africa as a way of planting maize.

Observations show that smallholder farmers are responding well to this method of planting crops.  The key as pointed out by Conway is that the farmers need to get a good return on their investment, and the investment must not be expensive and complicated.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid