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

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

China to Open Stock Markets to Pension Funds

In unprecedented move, government to soon allow local pension funds to invest up to $94 billion in domestic shares More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs