Food Security

, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp 351–360 | Cite as

Integrating a broader notion of food security and gender empowerment into the African Green Revolution

  • Joel NeginEmail author
  • Roseline Remans
  • Susan Karuti
  • Jessica C. Fanzo
Original Paper


A Green Revolution for Africa is emerging after decades of neglect of Africa’s agricultural systems. To counter these years of neglect, the then United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan called for “a uniquely African Green Revolution”. Since then, a number of initiatives have emerged or are emerging to realize this important vision. As more money and attention galvanizes much-needed action on the African Green Revolution, a vigorous debate is required to ensure that the mission of improving food security on the world’s poorest continent is achieved in the most effective, comprehensive and inclusive manner possible. The African Green Revolution cannot be limited to increasing yields of staple crops but must be designed as a driver of sustainable development, which includes gender empowerment and nutrition elements. This paper first reviews the Asian Green Revolution’s successes and shortcomings from a nutrition and gender perspective and then outlines what the global community can do to ensure that some of the limitations of the Asian Green Revolution, specifically with regard to nutrition and gender, are not repeated.


Nutrition Agriculture Green revolution Gender Food security 



The authors are grateful for the comments on the manuscript by and support of Glenn Denning.

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


  1. AGRA (2009a) AGRA at Work. Accessed February 10, 2009
  2. AGRA (2009b) About the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa. Accessed February 10, 2009
  3. Annan K (2004) Africa’s green revolution: a call to action. Proceedings of the July 5th, 2004 high-level seminar, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, convened by the Government of Ethiopia and the UN Millennium Project. MDG Centre, NairobiGoogle Scholar
  4. Bamji MS (2007) Nutrition-secure India—How do we get there? Nutrition conclave discusses the way forward. Curr Sci 93(11):1473–1475Google Scholar
  5. Battisti DS, Naylor RL (2009) Historical warnings of future food insecurity with unprecedented seasonal heat. Science 323(5911):240–244CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Baylies C (2002) The impact of AIDS on rural households in Africa: a shock like any other? Dev Change 33(4):612CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bellagio Working Group for the African Green Revolution (2009) Fund for the African Green Revolution. The Earth Institute at Columbia University, New York, February 22, 2009Google Scholar
  8. Bhagowalia P, Chen S, Shively G (2007) Input choices in agriculture: is there a gender bias? Working Paper #07–09, Department. of Agricultural Economics, Purdue UniversityGoogle Scholar
  9. Chen LC, Huq E, D’Souza S (1981) Sex bias in the family allocation of food and health care in rural Bangladesh. Popul Dev Rev 7(1):55–70CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Christensen J, Hewitson BC, Busuioc A, Chen A, Gao X, Jones R, Kwon WT, Laprise R, Magana V, Mearns L, Menenedez C, Raisaenen J, Rinke A, Kolli RK, Sarr A (2007) Regional Climate Projections, in IPCC Fourth Assessment Report “Climate Change 2007: The Scientific Basis”, Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  11. de Waal A, Whiteside A (2003) New variant famine: AIDS and food crisis in Southern Africa. Lancet 362:123Google Scholar
  12. Denning G, Kabambe P, Sanchez P, Malik A, Flor R, Harawa R, Nkhoma P, Zamba C, Banda C, Magombo C, Keating M, Wangila J, Sachs JD (2009) Input subsidies to improve smallholder maize productivity in Malawi: toward an African Green Revolution. PLOS Biology 7(1):e23CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Dey Abbas J (1997) “Gender asymmetries in intrahousehold resource allocation in Sub-Saharan Africa: some policy implications for land and labor productivity,” ch. 15 in Haddad, Hoddinott, and Alderman, eds., Intrahousehold Resource Allocation in Developing Countries: Models, Methods, and Policy, Johns HopkinsGoogle Scholar
  14. Donovan C, Bailey L, Mpyisi E, Weber M (2003) Prime-age adult morbidity and mortality in rural Rwanda: effects on household income, agricultural production, and food security strategies. Research report for ministry of agriculture, livestock, and forestry, March 2003Google Scholar
  15. Doss CR, Morris ML (2001) How does gender affect the adoption of agricultural innovations? The case of improved maize technology in Ghana. Agric Econ 25(1):27–39Google Scholar
  16. Evenson RE, Gollin D (2003) Assessing the impact of the Green Revolution, 1960 to 2000. Science 300:758–762CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Fanzo JC, Haddad L (2009) Smallholder food production and poverty reduction: principles for a financial coordination mechanism to support smallholder farmers. Ad Hoc advisory group to the Madrid conference on food security chaired by Prof. Jeffrey Sachs. Fundacion ideas foundation. Box 10:34–36Google Scholar
  18. FAOSTAT (2009) Accessed March 23, 2009
  19. Filmer D, King E, Pritchett L (1998) Gender Disparity in South Asia: Comparisons between and within Countries. (
  20. Fischer G, Shah M, Tubiello F, van Velhuizen H (2005) Socio-economic and climate change impacts on agriculture: An integrated assessment, 1990–2080. Philos Trans R Soc B 360:2067–83CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Food and Agriculture Organization (1995) A synthesis report of the Africa region—women, agriculture and rural development. FAO, RomeGoogle Scholar
  22. Food and Agriculture Organization (1996) Declaration on world food security. World Food Summit. FAO, RomeGoogle Scholar
  23. Food and Agriculture Organization (2008) The world only needs 30 billion dollars a year to eradicate the scourge of hunger: Time for talk over—Action needed. 3 June 2008, RomeGoogle Scholar
  24. Fox MP, Rosen S, MacLeod WB, Wasunna M, Bii M, Foglia G, Simon JL (2004) The impact of HIV/AIDS on labour productivity in Kenya. Trop Med Int Health 9:318–324CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Frison E, Smith IF, Johns T, Cherfas J, Eyzaguirre PB (2006) Agricultural biodiversity, nutrition, and health: making a difference to hunger and nutrition in the developing world. Food Nutr Bull 25:143–155Google Scholar
  26. Funk C, Dettinger MD, Brown ME, Michaelsen JC, Verdin JP, Barlow M, Hoell A (2008) Warming of the Indian Ocean threatens eastern and southern Africa, but could be mitigated by agricultural development. Proc Natl Acad Sci 105:11081–11086CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Graham RD (2008) Micronutrient deficiencies in crops and their global significance. In: Alloway BJ (ed) Micronutrient deficiencies in global crop production. Springer, HeidelbergGoogle Scholar
  28. Graham RD, Welch RM, Saunders DA, IOrtiz-Monasterio I, Bouis HE, Bonierbale M, de Haan S, Burgos G, Thiele G, Liria R, Meisner CA, Beebe SE, Potts MJ, Kadian M, Hobbs PR, Gupta RK, Twomlow S (2007) Nutritious subsistence food systems. Adv Agron 92:1–72CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Gray L, Kevane M (1999) Diminished access, diverted exclusion: women and land tenure in Sub-Saharan Africa. Afr Stud Rev 42(2):15–39CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hawkes C, Ruel M (2006) The links between agriculture and health: an intersectoral opportunity to improve the health and livelihoods of the poor. Bull WHO 84:985–991Google Scholar
  31. Helen Keller International (2004) Homestead food production increases household food and nutrition security. Homestead food production bulletin No. 2.Google Scholar
  32. Ideas Foundation (2009) Smallholder food production and poverty reduction: principles for a financial coordination mechanism to support smallholder farmers. Report of Ad Hoc Advisory group to the Madrid conference on food security, January 26, 2009Google Scholar
  33. International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) (2002) “Green Revolution: Curse or Blessing?” Washington, DC, USAGoogle Scholar
  34. Kajisa K (2008) The revolution keeps rolling. Rice Today 7(2):46Google Scholar
  35. Khush GS (2001a) Green revolution: the way forward. Nat Rev Genet 2(10):815–22CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Khush GS (2001b) Challenges for meeting the global food and nutrient needs in the new millennium. Proc Nut Soc 60:15–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Kotler DP (2000) Nutritional alterations associated with HIV infection. JAIDS 25(suppl 1):S81–S87PubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Larson BA, Fox MP, Rosen S, Bii M, Sigei C, Shaffer D, Sawe F, Wasunna M, Simon JL (2008) Early effects of antiretroviral therapy on work performance: preliminary results from a cohort study of Kenyan agricultural workers. AIDS 22:e421–425CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Low J, Arimond M, Osman N, Cunguara B, Zano F, Tschirley D (2007) A food-based approach introducing orange-fleshed sweet potatoes increased vitamin A intake and serum retinol concentrations in young children in rural Mozambique. J Nutr 137:1320–1327PubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. Mason J, Rivers J, Helwig C (2005) Recent trends in malnutrition in developing regions: vitamin A deficiency, anemia, iodine deficiency, and child underweight. Food Nutr Bull 26(1):57–108PubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Negin J (2005) Assessing the impact of HIV/AIDS on economic growth and rural agriculture in Africa. J Int Aff 58(2):267–281Google Scholar
  42. Negin J, Denning G (2008) Shared challenges and solutions: Australia’s unique contribution to the future of African development. Lowy institute for international policy. Policy Brief, December 2008Google Scholar
  43. Ngaira JKW (2007) Impact of climate change on agriculture in Africa by 2030. Sci Res Essays 2(7):238–243Google Scholar
  44. Oniang’o R, Mukudi E (2002) “Nutrition and gender: a foundation for development”. Brief 7 of 12: World Bank/Curt Carnemark, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  45. Oslo Declaration on the African Green Revolution (2007) African Green Revolution Conference 2007. Considerations of the Ministerial and High Level Roundtable. Oslo, Norway, August 29—September 1, 2007Google Scholar
  46. Paddock W, Paddock P (1967) Famine 1975! . Little, Brown & Co., Boston, MassachusettsGoogle Scholar
  47. Pinstrup-Andersen P (2009) Food security: definition and measurement. Food Security 1:5–7CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Popkin B (2008) The world is fat: the fads, trends, policies, and products that are fattening the human race. PenguinGoogle Scholar
  49. Quisumbing AR (1996) Male-Female differences in agricultural productivity. World Dev 24:1579–1595CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Quisumbing AR, Maluccio J (2000) Intrahousehold allocation and gender relations: new empirical evidence from four developing countries, FCND Discussion Paper 84, IFPRI,Washington, D.C., 2000Google Scholar
  51. Quisumbing AR, Haddad L, Peña C (1995) Gender and poverty: new evidence from 10 developing countries. FCND Discussion paper 9. Washington, D.C. International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)Google Scholar
  52. Quisumbing AR, Estudillo JP, Otsuka K (2004) Land and schooling transferring wealth across generations. Johns Hopkins University Press, BaltimoreGoogle Scholar
  53. Saito KA, Weidemann CJ (1990) Agricultural extension for women farmers in Africa. Policy Research Working Paper Series 398, The World Bank, 1990Google Scholar
  54. Sanchez PA, Swaminathan MS (2005) Cutting world hunger in half. Science 307:357–359CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  55. Sanchez PA, Denning GL, Nziguheba G (2009) The African green revolution moves forward. Food Security 1:37–44CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Shetty PS (2002) Nutrition transition in India. Public Health Nutr 5:175–182CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  57. Shiva V (1992) The violence of Green Revolution: third world agriculture, ecology and politics. Publisher: Zed BooksGoogle Scholar
  58. Siika AM, Lewis S, Chesire L, Komen F, Kimaiyo SN, Nyandiko WM, Sidle JE, Wools-Kaloustian K, Einterz RM, Mamlin JJ (2005) AMPATH’S HAART “n” Harvest Initiative: addressing the nutritional needs of HIV-infected patients on antiretroviral therapy. Presented at the “International Conference on HIV/AIDS and Food and Nutrition Security: From Evidence to Action”, Durban South Africa, 14–16 April 2005Google Scholar
  59. Smith LC, Haddad L (2000) Explaining child malnutrition in developing countries: a cross-country analysis. IFPRI Research Report No.111, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  60. Sobha I (2007) Green revolution: impact on gender. J Hum Ecol 22(2):107–113Google Scholar
  61. Stockholm Environment Institute (2008) Climate change and adaptation in African agriculture, March 2008Google Scholar
  62. Swaminathan MS (2006) An evergreen revolution. Crop Sci 46:2293–2303CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. UN Millennium Project (2005) Halving hunger: it can be done. UN millennium project task force on Hunger. Earthscan, LondonGoogle Scholar
  64. UNICEF (2009) State of the children. New YorkGoogle Scholar
  65. U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) (1992) Policy Determination of 1992 for definition of food security []
  66. Von Braun J, Kennedy E (1986) Commercialization of subsistence agriculture: income and nutritional effects in developing countries. International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, D.CGoogle Scholar
  67. Von Braun J, Puetz D, Webb P (1989) Irrigation technology and commercialization of rice in the Gambia: effects on income and nutrition. International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, D.CGoogle Scholar
  68. Von Braun J, Ruel M, Gulati A (2008) Accelerating Progress Towards Reducing Malnutrition in India. International Food Policy Research InstituteGoogle Scholar
  69. Welch R, Graham R (2002) Breeding crops for enhanced micronutrient content. Plant Soil 245:205–214CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. White House (2009) Doubling Financial Resources for Agricultural Development. White House Fact Sheet, April 2, 2009. Accessed April 5, 2009
  71. Windhoek High-Level Ministerial Declaration on African Agriculture in the 21st Century (2009) Meeting the challenges, making a sustainable Green Revolution. Windhoek, Namibia, February 9–10, 2009Google Scholar
  72. World Bank (2000) World bank quarterly review of commodity markets. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  73. World Bank (2007) World Development Report 2008. Agriculture for Development. Washington, DC, 2007Google Scholar
  74. Yamano T, Jayne TS (2004) Measuring the impacts of working-age adult mortality on small-scale farm households in Kenya. World Dev 32(1):91–119CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. & International Society for Plant Pathology 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joel Negin
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Roseline Remans
    • 2
  • Susan Karuti
    • 3
  • Jessica C. Fanzo
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Public HealthUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.The Earth Institute at Columbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.The MDG Centre, East and Southern AfricaEarth Institute at Columbia UniversityNairobiKenya

Personalised recommendations