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Emerging Technologies to Benefit Farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia 2 Constraints on Crop and Animal Productivity in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia As the committee began its task—to identify technologies emerging in different fields of science and engineering that could be most helpful to poor farmers in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and South Asia (SA)—it quickly agreed that the first place to look for opportunities to transform agriculture was in the fields and pastures where conditions that constrain agricultural productivity are manifested. Any technology that could help a farmer to overcome the worst conditions would have a substantial impact on crop yields, improve food security, and increase the farmer’s potential for income. This chapter provides a broad sketch of crop and animal production in SSA and SA and identifies general and specific constraints that limit the ability of farmers in these regions to sustain reliable food production. The constraints were identified on the basis of the committee’s own expertise and responses to the committee’s request for input from scientists in the two regions, and the constraints provide the context for the rest of the report. OVERVIEW OF CROP PRODUCTION IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA AND SOUTH ASIA High-Priority Crops As shown in Figure 2-1, there are substantial differences between the crops of SSA and the crops of SA. The major crops of the Green Revolution1—rice and wheat—still predominate in Asia. However, increases in 1 The Green Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s came as a result of scientific efforts to improve rice and wheat varieties—combined with the expanded use of fertilizers, other chemical inputs, and irrigation—and ultimately led to dramatic yield increases in Asia and Latin America (IFPRI, 2002).
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Emerging Technologies to Benefit Farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia FIGURE 2-1 Major food crops of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. NOTE: Percentages refer to hectares harvested, averaged for 2000-2004. SOURCE: FAO, 2006a; de Janvry and Byerlee, 2007. productivity are tapering off in the classic rice-wheat cropping rotation that has been used for more than 1,000 years in Asia; it now encompasses about 24 million hectares in Asia, of which 13.5 million are in SA (Rice-Wheat Consortium, 2007). Sorghum and pearl millet are also widely grown, although they are on the decline, being replaced by maize in many areas, which is important for the burgeoning livestock and poultry feed industries (Joshi et al., 2005). The legumes that are important for nutrition are chickpea, lentil, pigeon pea, and groundnuts; they are less abundant as crops. The Indian government claims to be promoting diversification of crops away from the intense reliance on cereal grains with recommendations to increase growth of legumes, fruits, vegetables, and oilseeds and more emphasis on dairy, poultry, and fish and with concomitant strengthening of markets and the government’s ability to meet health and safety standards. Cotton and tea remain important export crops, although the declining yields of tea plantations and competition from abroad still pose problems; unlike SSA, India has a strong textile industry that complements the widespread production of cotton. The major crops of SSA are somewhat more diverse, and this makes priority-setting for improvement more challenging. Most of the crops shown in Figure 2-1 are also listed by DeVries and Toenniessen (2002). Among cereals, maize continues to emerge as the dominant crop, particularly in eastern and southern Africa, and sorghum and millet are important in drier areas of SSA. Rice has always been grown in the wetter areas of
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Emerging Technologies to Benefit Farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia west Africa and is increasingly popular for consumption especially in the growing urban populations throughout SSA. Among the legumes, cowpea, pigeon pea, common bean, and groundnuts are important in many parts of SSA. Because of its ability to yield well despite stress and low inputs (externally supplied nutrients, pesticides, etc.), cassava is an important crop to millions of poor farmers throughout SSA, and yams also are hugely popular in countries such as Nigeria. Sweet potato is a major source of calories in some countries of eastern and southern Africa. An orange-flesh sweet potato that is rich in beta-carotene, the precursor of vitamin A, is being promoted to address the problem of nutritional deficiency (see Box 2-1) (Low et al., 2007). Banana has emerged as a major cash crop, and tissue-culture production of virus-free plantlets is becoming a viable business in eastern and southern Africa. The starchy east African highland banana is the major staple crop of countries such as Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi. Forests are increasingly recognized as important in SSA, not so much as a crop (although they are now for biofuels) but rather for their benefits to the environment—in protecting watersheds and preventing land degradation—and as a major source of fuel and building materials for small-holder farmers, and for their potential to offer income in schemes involving trading of carbon credits. Crop Yields Data on yields in SSA and SA and in the developed world are relevant to food security and the relative health of the agricultural economy. Table 2-1 shows selected data on Kenya, Ethiopia, and India as representative of the regions in question. Yields are particularly low for maize and legumes, but yields of all crops listed are substantially lower in the three countries than in the developed world. Yields of cereals like wheat and rice showed striking rises in India in past decades but are now leveling off, and as previously mentioned, per capita yields of cereals in SSA are actually declining. Most African crop and animal production is practiced under low-input agricultural systems, and the chances of substantial improvement under those conditions may be limited (IAC, 2004). Figure 2-2 (Henoa and Baanante, 2006) compares SSA and Asia with respect to agricultural productivity and land use. The data provide a striking contrast: almost all the yield gain in SSA has come from increased land use, whereas in Asia it has resulted largely from increasing the yield on the same land area. The increased yield in Asia on the same amount of land can be attributed largely to three factors: the new Green Revolution varieties of wheat and rice, which continue to be adapted and improved; the widespread use of inorganic fertilizer and herbicides; and irrigation of large areas in India
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Emerging Technologies to Benefit Farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia BOX 2-1 Agriculture and Malnutrition In the last decade, the number and proportion of malnourished children and mothers in sub-Saharan Africa has increased. Undernutrition—deficiencies in macronutrients, protein, and energy, as well as micronutrients, iron, vitamin A, zinc, and iodine—is the underlying cause of half of all child mortality (Chopra and Darnton-Hill, 2006). About 84 percent of children under 5 years old in Kenya have some level of vitamin A deficiency, 73.4 percent are iron-deficient (anemic), and 51 percent are zinc-deficient. Women, especially pregnant women, are among the most vulnerable, with a high risk of iron deficiency (60 percent of pregnant woman) and vitamin A deficiency (39 percent of women). An estimated 16 percent of men have iron deficiency. Approximately 4.5 billion people living in the developing world are chronically exposed to aflatoxin, a fungal toxin that is considered an unavoidable contaminant of foods that is a major cause of malnutrition (Williams et al., 2004). At the same time as undernutrition persists in parts of the population, rates of obesity are skyrocketing in other parts, especially in urban areas, because of greater consumption of refined fats and carbohydrates and more sedentary lifestyles (Prentice, 2006). In South Africa, 56 percent of women are considered overweight, and 30 percent are obese. Interrelationships among micronutrients and age-sex biases dictate that solutions more complex than single-nutrient supplementation are required. Similarly, food-based solutions to malnutrition—such as the orange-flesh sweet potato (Low et al., 2007), biofortified rice (Haas et al., 2005), and meat and milk (Neumann et al., 2003)—although time-consuming to implement, can result in beneficial long-term dietary change. The HarvestPlus program (www.harvestplus.org) of the CGIAR aims to address biofortification primarily through conventional breeding. Other efforts, including the Grand Challenge 9 Program, support biotechnological approaches to raise the concentrations of vitamin A, iron, and zinc in banana, rice, cassava, and sorghum beyond those possible through conventional breeding. The goal to raise micronutrient levels in those crops is attainable with today’s technologies; the biggest challenges for the projects may well be in finding ways to deal with regulatory approvals for traits that have not yet been evaluated by any regulatory system. Folate (a form of vitamin B) deficiency is a global problem that leads to neural tube defects, and transgenic approaches have been successful in increasing folate levels in tomato and rice (Diaz de la Garza et al., 2007; Storozhenko et al., 2007). Because obesity is becoming more prevalent in the developing world, lowering the rate of starch digestion by altering the amylose-to-amylopectin ratio would be one way to address the issue.
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Emerging Technologies to Benefit Farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia TABLE 2-1 Cereal and Legume Yields in 2005 Crop Kenya (kg/ha) Ethiopia (kg/ha) India (kg/ha) Developed World (kg/ha) Maize 1,640 2,006 1,907 8,340 Sorghum 1,230 1,455 797 3,910 Millet 580 1,186 1,000 2,010 Rice (paddy) 3,930 1,872 3,284 6,810 Wheat 2,310 1,469 2,601 3,110 Beans, cowpea 378 730 332 1,790 Chickpea 314 1,026 814 7,980 SOURCE: FAO, 2006a. and Pakistan, because water has not at least until recently been a major limiting factor as it has been in the largely rain-fed agriculture of SSA. Quality seed, adequate nutrients, and water synergize to enhance yield, and lack of a combination of these three goes a long way toward explaining why yields of all major crops in SSA are among the lowest in the world. GENERAL CONSTRAINTS ON CROP PRODUCTION Poor Soil and Poor Soil Fertility Not all soils are the same: soils arise from different geophysical processes that give them different characteristics. In Africa, soils are categorized in three groups. The first group includes highly erodible, weathered soils and low-activity clays with high acidity and aluminum phytotoxicity; these soils occur mostly in the subhumid tropical uplands and humid equatorial and coastal lowland regions. The second group includes the more moderately weathered, fertile soils derived mainly from basic rocks and volcanic materials in western Cameroon, Rwanda, Burundi, the Kivu region of Zaire, and parts of eastern Africa; this is where the most productive plantations of perennial crops—such as coffee, tea, and banana—are grown. The third group is the hydromorphic or ancient alluvial soils that predominate in the subhumid tropical uplands, where an underlying hardened plinthite (an iron-rich clay-quartz mixture) at shallow depths limits the downward growth of plant roots; these soils are easily compacted and eroded. Many of the soils of SSA are less than ideal for agriculture, and the situation is made worse by the extensive nutrient mining caused by poor agricultural practices in the region. In addition to natural wind and water erosion, much of the soil erosion is caused by overgrazing, deforestation, and intensive row cropping. Erosion rates of 10 to 40 t/ha per year are
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Emerging Technologies to Benefit Farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia FIGURE 2-2 Changes in cereal production, 1961-2001, in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. NOTE: Increases in yields were due primarily to increased land use in sub-Saharan Africa but to increased production per unit of land area in South Asia. SOURCE: Henoa and Baanante, 2006. Reprinted with permission. © 2006 by International Center for Soil Fertility and Agricultural Development.
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Emerging Technologies to Benefit Farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia common on crop lands, compared with annual soil losses of 5 to 10 t/ha per year in the U.S. corn belt (Lal, 1995, 1998). The soils of SSA have also been robbed of their nutrient content. The Tropical Soil Biology and Fertility Institute has published an excellent review of challenges to soil management in the tropics (TSBF-CIAT, 2005). Most cropland soils in SSA are affected by negative nutrient balance: nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium (NPK) depletion occurs at 20 to 40 kg/ha per year throughout the continent (Smaling, 1993; Smaling et al., 1993; Sanchez, 2002). African farmers traditionally left lands fallow to restore nutrients and regain fertility, but because of food demand crops now grow continuously with little or no nutrient input. The result is extensive and sometimes irreversible soil degradation, as illustrated in Figure 2-3. Fertilizer use in SSA is low (NPK at 8.8 kg/ha per year) (Henoa and Baanante, 2006). That situation is attributable to the inaccessibility and exorbitant cost of inorganic fertilizer—up to 4 times that paid by a farmer in the United States (Camara and Heinemann, 2006; Eilittä, 2006). Efforts to address the accessibility and cost of fertilizer were highlighted at a recent African Fertilizer Summit. In addition, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)—established by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation—has launched a new program in soils that aims to increase sustainable use of fertilizers, organic matter, and soil management methods. In contrast with Africa, fertilizer use in SA is high (NPK at 100 kg/ha per year). Fertilizer consumption in SA increased by a factor of 42 from 1961 to 2003 and accounts for much of the yield gain in the region during the period (Lal, 2007). However, there seem to have been recent widespread decreases in the responses of crops to agricultural inputs. For example, cereal production in India declined from a peak of 235 kg/ha in 1995 to a low of 205 kg/ha in 2002. One possible reason for the decline, which also occurred in SSA, is the loss of soil organic matter as farmers strip off all plant matter. In SA, this includes weeds and roots, to use for animal feed or for cooking fuel (Eswaran et al., 1999). Lacking input of organic matter, degraded soils have low holding capacities, so they often do not respond to the addition of inorganic fertilizer. Numerous studies indicate that there can be strong synergism in the use of both organic and inorganic fertilizer. However, difficult tradeoffs with respect to organic amendments remain. In SA, manure is used for cooking fuel; in many parts of SSA, the poorest farmers use some crop residues as building material and might not have animals as a source of manure, and they are reluctant to use their small plots to grow crops that yield only green manures. Low organic matter may lead to a decrease in the abundance of important soil organisms, such as bacteria, fungi, termites,
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Emerging Technologies to Benefit Farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia FIGURE 2-3 Areas in red are where current population exceeds agricultural capacity because of severe soil degradation and nutrient mining. SOURCE: Henoa and Baanante, 2006. Reprinted with permission. © 2006 by International Center for Soil Fertility and Agricultural Development.
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Emerging Technologies to Benefit Farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia earthworms, insects, and small animals that inhabit the rhizosphere, an area of biological diversity whose importance continues to be studied. Poor Water Use and Management Water constraints intersect with issues of soil fertility, water-use efficiency, and climate change. As recently stated, “water may seem to be everywhere, but for a rising portion of the world’s population, there may soon be hardly a drop to drink—or to use for growing food, supporting industries and cities, and preserving life-giving ecosystems” (Postel, 1997). The climate of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and one-fourth of northwestern India is predominantly arid, and that of Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, eastern India, and Sri Lanka is humid. In SA, the proportion of cropland under irrigation is among the highest in the world (Table 2-2), but the water resource is poorly managed. Overuse of water through inefficient canal irrigation systems led to increased salinization and serious rising of the water table. A transition to tube wells has lowered the water table, but poor water quality remains a serious issue. Estimates for Pakistan indicate that over 50 percent of the groundwater is saline and not fit for irrigation. Other problems include the discovery of arsenic in many groundwater sources, the gradual depletion of major aquifers in some regions, and pollution from runoff. Wastewater could be an important source of water for agriculture, but it also carries health hazards. In Pakistan, for instance, it was found that hookworm is a major problem for those exposed to wastewater, and fear of contamination of vegetables is a major health issue for consumers (IWMI, 2003b). As an alternative solution, wastewater could be suitable for growth of bioenergy crops, which would not be associated with health issues. In substantial areas of SA—areas where there is also widespread rural poverty—agriculture is carried out under rain-fed conditions. As pointed out to the committee by Bharat Sharma, of the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), the northwestern region of India (Rajasthan and TABLE 2-2 Irrigated Areas in South Asia Country 1975 (Mha) 1985 (Mha) 1995 (Mha) 1998 (Mha) 2003 (Mha) Per Capita in 2003 (ha/person) Afghanistan 2.4 2.6 2.8 2.8 2.7 0.09 Bangladesh 1.4 2.1 3.2 4.2 4.7 0.03 India 33.7 41.8 50.1 54.8 55.8 0.05 Nepal 0.2 0.8 0.9 1.1 1.2 0.04 Pakistan 13.6 15.8 17.2 18.1 18.2 0.11 Sri Lanka 0.5 0.6 0.6 0.7 0.7 0.03 SOURCE: Kaosa-ard and Rerkasem, 2000; FAO, 2006a; Lal, 2007.
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Emerging Technologies to Benefit Farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia Gujarat), the Sind and Baluchistan provinces of Pakistan, and Afghanistan constitute one of the largest blocks in SA confronted with frequent and devastating droughts. In contrast with drought-prone areas, flooding of the Indo-Gangetic plains is an all-too-common occurrence and of increasing concern in climate change scenarios. Only 5 percent of agricultural land in Africa is under irrigation, compared with more than 60 percent in many parts of Asia, and most small-scale poor farmers in SSA suffer the vagaries of fluctuating weather conditions that are inevitable in rain-fed agriculture. In both SSA and SA, there is increasing use of low-cost bucket and drip irrigation systems and treadle pumps, even by the very poor (IWMI, 2003a; www.acumen.org; www.kickstart.com), but the general lack of irrigation in SSA is an obvious target for technological intervention. The recently published Water for Food. Water for Life. Comprehensive Assessment of Water Management for Agriculture (IMWI, 2007) regards the upgrading of rain-fed systems as one of the most important opportunities to both reduce poverty and increase productivity in the rain-fed regions of SSA and SA, as is indicated in Table 2-3. Several reports (Camara and Heinemann, 2006; Rockstrom et al., 2006, 2007) emphasize that yields can be increased by a factor of 2-4 in many parts of SSA through better water management practices, such as adding organic matter to soils, preventing soil erosion, using water harvesting technologies, and increasing water retention with tied ridges, bunds, and terraces. The InterAcademy Council (IAC) report (2004) indicates that there is also an opportunity to improve current irrigation practices and to increase the amount of land under irrigation, inasmuch as current TABLE 2-3 Regional Potential for Increasing Crop Water Productivity Comprehensive Assessment Scenario Characteristics Region Scope for Improved Productivity in Rain-Fed Areas Scope for Improved Productivity in Irrigated Areas Scope for Irrigated Area Expansion Sub-Saharan Africa High Some High Middle East and North Africa Some Some Very limited Central Asia and Eastern Europe Some Good Some South Asia Good High Some East Asia Good High Some Latin America Good Some Some OECD countries Some Some Some SOURCE: IWMI, 2007. Reprinted with permission. © International Water Management Institute (http://www.iwmi.org).
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Emerging Technologies to Benefit Farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia estimates indicate that only 30 percent of what is potentially available has been reached in SSA, with the greatest opportunities lying in humid regions, such as the Congo Basin. Lack of Plant Breeding Resources The importance of plant breeding for the health of a modern agricultural system cannot be overstated. Even in the United States and Europe, where there is private-sector investment in crop-trait improvement, substantial public-sector and philanthropic resources are essential if for no other reason than that breeding is needed to cope with changing pathogens and pests that affect food production. Progress in crop improvement can be sustained over decades, but advances become more difficult when the environments are prone to change as a consequence of different temperatures, length of seasons, rainfall patterns, and pests and diseases. Thus, where climate change and associated factors pose additional threats to future crop production, more active breeding programs are needed so that crop selections can be responsive to expected environmental change; for example, crops can be selected for tolerance to higher temperatures. National breeding programs in SA have been greatly enhanced since the onset of the Green Revolution, but progress in developing modern varieties of the major crops for SSA has been much slower. If they exist at all, national breeding programs for rice, wheat, tropical maize, sorghum, cassava, beans, banana, pearl millet, lentil, cowpea, pigeon pea, common beans, yam, groundnuts, banana, sweet potato, and various fruits and vegetables are generally small and modestly staffed. The poorest countries only have a few testing facilities to help local farmers to find better strains of the crops they grow. Some countries, such as Kenya and India, manage to adopt, and to a limited extent improve, germplasm developed elsewhere. In some cases, private breeding companies are paying more attention to crops in SSA and SA, but often the fruits of these endeavors are effective only for wealthy farmers. Advanced breeding programs of any important scale that focus on the needs of poor farmers are limited to the International Agricultural Research Centres (IARCs) of the World Bank’s Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). While these programs have been faulted by some for trying to “short-cut” germplasm improvement in SSA by transferring less than suitable varieties from Asia and Latin America (Evenson and Gollin, 2003), there are now positive signs with respect to yield increases for most major crops. The CGIAR system as a whole has made major contributions in terms of new varieties and crop improvement in a range of crops. CGIAR has been a pioneer of participatory breeding: germplasm developed by many of the centers found its way into national breeding programs and subsequently into the fields of small-
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Emerging Technologies to Benefit Farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia expected to remain high at high levels through 2017 (USDA, 2008), offering a unique window of opportunity to assist poor farmers in transferring from subsistence to production agriculture if productivity in SSA and SA can be increased. Lack of Extension Services A major constraint to agriculture is the woefully inadequate extension services in both SSA and SA that are so critical for transferring new knowledge and technologies to farmers. Many countries in SSA and SA maintain a large number of agricultural extension agents on government payrolls, but they do not have sufficient resources to get into the field or to develop and provide the information needed to support farmers. In addition to local radio, the growing access to the Internet, particularly in SA, might be used to great advantage to transform those services. SA is in a much better position than SSA with respect to infrastructure for information technology; however, with the completion of fiber-optic cables that can surround SSA and efforts to connect the interior regions to them, one can expect rapid adoption of this powerful means of communication just as cellular phones have been adopted. Lack of Cash and Financing It is often not recognized that farmers live in a cash economy with little means to generate cash. Purchase of day-to-day necessities—such as clothes and food not grown at home, school fees, and costs of health services, weddings, and funerals—limit a farmer’s ability to purchase high-quality inputs, including seed, fertilizer, and irrigation and other farm equipment. For those and other complex reasons, the creation of dynamic rural enterprises depends on the availability of credit at manageable interest rates to small-scale farmers. The need for such credit impinges upon all efforts to increase agricultural productivity. Through the ability to purchase critical inputs that can increase primary productivity, excess yields of staple crops (beyond household needs) could be processed into higher-value commodities and sold in local and regional markets. Alternatively, with higher productivity, the land devoted to staple crops could be decreased to allow production of higher-value cash crops, such as fruits and vegetables, which contribute to both better nutrition and income. Need for Basic Infrastructure The lack of adequate roads in SSA severely limits the development of strong output markets; even in India, the Finance Minister in 2005
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Emerging Technologies to Benefit Farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia stressed in a speech the importance of further development of rural roads, electrification, and increased access to markets that would be critical for rural development. Particularly in SSA, poor roads and lack of transport mean that farmers are also isolated from key inputs, such as improved seed, fertilizer, irrigation and other farm equipment, and information services. A recent push to promote farmer collectives (www.sacredafrica.org) and to create a much larger number of small local agro-dealers to provide the inputs and services has helped in some small way to mitigate the problem in a few countries in eastern Africa (Eilittä, 2006). On the output side, both in SSA and SA, poor storage conditions for grain, fruits and vegetables, fish, milk, and meat and lack of transport and roads limit a farmer’s ability to sell excess produce in years of abundance. The lack of roads coincides with the critical lack of energy, both on the farm and in the transportation sector. Together, the lack of these two critical aspects of infrastructure essentially ensures that efforts to modernize agriculture cannot succeed unless these two major limitations are addressed in a serious way. A FUTURE UNCERTAINTY: CLIMATE CHANGE A 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change leaves little room for doubt that the world is getting warmer. By the end of the century, average temperatures could increase by up to 6°C. Higher latitudes will experience greater temperature increases than coastal and lowland regions. The effects of climate change can also impact plant and animal disease patterns and prevalence. Increased carbon dioxide concentrations decrease stomatal conductance and reduce water loss from plants under both irrigated and rain-fed conditions and can result in higher yields, although the results can vary seasonally in ways that are not completely understood (Bernacchi et al., 2007). On a larger scale, the decreases in plant evapotranspiration have been shown to increase continental water runoff to the seas and thus affect global hydrology (Gedney et al., 2006). The magnitude of any feedback loops in those systems locally, regionally, and globally is complex and deserves further study; genomic approaches that facilitate adaptation of important crop species is part of this research (White et al., 2004; Li et al., 2007). It is quite clear that, in terms of overall effects on world agriculture, there will be winners and losers as the climate changes. For example, it is predicted that southern and northern Africa will become drier and the tropics wetter (with regional variations), and there remains much controversy over how the Sahel will be affected. It is more certain that Africa and parts of Asia (Naylor et al., 2007) will be greatly affected by El Niño and that in general Africans, like most of the rest of the world, should expect more violent extremes of weather (DFID, 2004; IPCC, 2007). A recent study
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Emerging Technologies to Benefit Farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia based on statistical crop models and climate projections for 2030 indicates that wheat in SA and maize in southern Africa are the most likely to suffer adverse effects of climate change (Lobell et al., 2008). Farmers in SSA have millennia of experience in dealing with the vagaries of weather (Giles, 2007), and it has often been pointed out that annual variations in weather can be more extreme than the changes predicted for the long term. As noted previously, poor farmers in SSA are conservative when faced with uncertain conditions. Therefore, enhancing the accuracy of seasonal weather predictions could have a profound effect on agriculture in SSA. If a cropping season for bumper crops could be reliably foretold, farmers would be much more willing to risk the purchase of high-quality seed and fertilizer or to make reasoned decisions about what percentage of maize vs. the more drought-tolerant sorghum to grow. It seems apparent that changing weather patterns will also affect the distribution and movements of pathogens and their vectors. Changes in the patterns, prevalence, and competency of arthropod vectors of infectious and parasitic disease agents are already having a serious impact on the emergence of vector-borne human and animal pathogens. Studies so far indicate that, in general, plants will be more predisposed to diseases as global warming proceeds (Chakaborty, 2005), but there are many complex feedback loops in the interactions (Harvell et al., 2002; White et al., 2004; Burdon et al., 2006; Garrett et al., 2006; Yamamura et al., 2006; Ziska and Goins, 2006; Zvereva and Kozlov, 2006). The roles of crop plants (such as rice) and animals in greenhouse gas emissions are coming into focus, but how the emissions might be mitigated, including soil carbon sequestration, is still an open question (Lal, 2004; Wassmann et al., 2004; Kerdchoechuen, 2005). Finally, how will rising sea levels affect the livelihoods of those engaged in agriculture and fishing in coastal areas? The situation could be so severe in some island countries, such as the Maldives and the coastal regions of Bangladesh, that relocation of people might be the only worthwhile option. Rising sea levels and as well as more violent storms will certainly affect coastal ecosystems, including the mangroves that harbor rich fishing grounds, and lead to salinization of coastal aquifers (IPCC, 2001). Changes in sea level, temperature, and concentrations of CO2 and O2 can also lead to changes in population dynamics for all species. IWMI (2006) has provided an excellent summary of the challenges that global warming will probably create for both artisanal fishing and aquaculture. Efforts are needed to anticipate the changes and take adaptive actions before the adverse effects on agriculture occur.
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Emerging Technologies to Benefit Farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia LACK OF QUICK FIXES The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme emphasized that “there should be no illusion of quick fixes, or miracle paths, towards African self-reliance in food and agriculture. Achievement of a productive and profitable agricultural/agro-industrial sector will require Africa to address a complex set of challenges” (CAADP, 2002). Because agriculture in SSA and SA is so relatively unproductive, almost any well-chosen effort to address some of the constraints in these regions might bring about substantial improvement in a short period of time, although one has to understand that such improvement is relative. For example, the yield increases experienced in Malawi after government financing of fertilizer and seed purchase were still only about two-thirds the world average. Therefore, more progress is needed. In the industrialized world, the implementation of a novel technology provides a marginal benefit to the production system, but no coherent production “system” exists in most places in the developing world. A whole suite of approaches, some technological and some not, must come together for farmers to realize the benefit of any innovation. For example, addressing the nutritive component of a crop will be of little use if the numerous other constraints that limit the crop’s productivity are not tackled. The opportunities suggested in the succeeding chapters must be viewed in that light—that at best they offer new approaches that can synergize with each other and with the many other activities supported by governments and donors worldwide to transform subsistence agriculture to productive agriculture in SSA and SA. REFERENCES Akano O., O. Dixon, C. Mba, E. Barerra, and M. Fregene. 2002. Genetic mapping of a dominant gene conferring resistance to cassava mosaic disease. Theoret. Appl. Genet. 106:58-66. Albar, L., M. Bangratz-Reyser, E. Hébrard, M. N. Ndjiondjop, M. Jones, and A. Ghesquière. 2006. Mutations in the eIF(iso)4G translation initiation factor confer high resistance of rice to Rice yellow mottle virus. Plant J. 47:417-426. Alwang, J., and P. B. Siegel. 1999. Labor shortages on small landholdings in Malawi: Implications for policy reforms. World Develop. 27:1461-1475. Amin, I., S. Mansoor, L. Amrao, M. Hussain, S. Irum, Y. Zafar, S. E. Bull, and R. W. Briddon. 2006. Mobilisation into cotton and spread of a recombinant cotton leaf curl disease satellite. Arch. Virol. 151:2055-2065. Barrett, C. B., and D. C. Clay. 2003. How accurate is food-for-work self-targeting in the presence of imperfect factor markets? Evidence from Ethiopia. J. Dev. Stud. 39:152-180. Bernacchi, C. J., B. A. Kimball, D. R. Quarles, S. P. Long, and D. R. Ort. 2007. Decreases in stomatal conductance of soybean under open-air elevation of CO2 are closely coupled to decreases in open air evaporation. Plant Physiol. 143:134-144.
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