Focus on sustainability
Without significant deforestation (unacceptable for environmental and climate concerns) there is relatively little new land for agriculture and yet more food needs to be produced sustainably.
This implies the need for sustainable intensification; the pursuit of the dual goals of higher yields with fewer negative consequences for the environment. As part of the project, case studies were commissioned from existing projects from 20 countries in Africa where sustainable intensification had been developed, promoted or practiced during the last ten years.
The case studies show how agriculture can produce more food and yet do this in ways that improve the environment and rural livelihoods by using techniques including crop improvements; agroforestry, where trees and shrubs are combined with crops or livestock; and soil conservation.
On average, crop yields more than doubled, and some 10.4 million farmers and their families benefitted from improvements in farm productivity on nearly 13 million hectares (more than half the size of the UK).
The challenge now is to find ways to scale up these processes so that eventually hundreds of millions of people benefit.
The project also identified the importance of applying existing knowledge and technology which is shown to increase average yields two- to threefold in many parts of Africa, and twofold in the Russian Federation