The African Green Revolution moves forward
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The African Green Revolution is starting to gain momentum and there is now optimism about sub-Saharan Africa’s ability to rapidly increase its agricultural productivity. This is partly due to some key successes—at the local and national levels—of policies that support smallholder farmers. The 80 Millennium Villages, which comprise approximately 400,000 people in ten countries of sub-Saharan Africa, have drastically increased production of staple food crops, transforming food deficits into crop surpluses. Maize yields more than doubled at the village scale, from 1.7 to 4.1 tons ha−1. In Malawi, because of a smart input subsidy program implemented by the government, maize harvests have greatly surpassed those of previous years, turning that country from a recipient of food aid into a food exporter and food aid donor to neighboring countries. Other countries are beginning to implement similar efforts. They will require novel financial mechanisms from the donor community to support them adequately. There is little question that sub-Saharan Africa can greatly improve food security with an ecologically-sound African Green Revolution supported by science-based policies, community mobilization, gender empowerment and effective governance.
KeywordsAfrican Green Revolution Food insecurity sub-Saharan Africa Agricultural productivity Poverty Millennium Development Goals
The preparation of this paper was supported by a special initiatives grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial and in-kind support provided for the actual work by the Millennium Villages Project, Open Society Institute, Government of Malawi, Government of Japan, Government of Ireland, Millennium Promise Alliance, United Nations Development Program and the Earth Institute at Columbia University. The authors are most grateful for the comments of Jeffrey Sachs in the manuscript as well as those of the two referees.
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