Africa: Sustainable Agriculture Vs Increasing Population

Authored By: Benjamin Banda

Bsc Agroforestry / Youth Climate Activist

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are an urgent call for action by all countries – developed and developing – in a global partnership. They recognize that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests. Agriculture is a key cog to ending poverty especially in many communities of most developing countries like Zambia.

Sustainable development and sustainable agriculture production in the 1990s were declared as the overarching issues that national governments and international organizations were going they strive towards. This was mainly because agricultural sectors mainly operate within the natural resources such as biodiversity, soils, water, and forests. Furthermore, agriculture employs on average more than half of the workforce in developing countries and less than one twentieth in developed countries.

Agriculture currently is sustaining a still expanding population. There is ample food available globally to achieve universal food security and opportunities for increased production. Sadly, there are over 1.7 billion people who are poverty stricken and malnourished most of which live in developing countries. Population prognoses estimate a whopping 10 billion people will be inhabiting the earth by the year 2050. This increase in population will only add another burden on the planet which is already struggling with environmental pollution (water, air, land), deforestation, climate change, drought, flooding and most devastatingly food scarcity (hunger). Due to this increase in population, hunger will be a major problem, Therefore, the conversation has been heavy on food security with an emphasis on the expansion of agriculture land for production. Now, much of this expansion is at the expense of natural systems such as forest. Currently, the world already grows enough food and food scarcity is a direct result of the ineffective distribution, poor post-harvest handling and a lack of purchasing power in certain households. Therefore, emphasis on more agriculture expansion is not going to solve the hunger problem and guarantee food security.

Consequently, there is need to re-evaluate the land use and tenure policy framework – especially in developing nations. There is a need to harmonize and interlink agriculture, rural development and conservation polices. This will minimize the trade-offs between agriculture and the conservation of natural systems. As opposed to increasing the land area for Agriculture production, the answer lies partially in the implementation of initiatives that promote low emission agriculture and more sustainable, conservation-oriented land-use systems. Furthermore, precision agriculture technologies such as drip irrigation, precision fertigation will play a pivotal role in increasing production, reducing costs of production and environmental conservation.

Against this foregoing, Sustainable Agriculture is the sure way of maximizing and improving the usage of land and sure way of ending hunger.

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