Agriculture for food and nature: Sustainable intensification of African farming systems in North and West Africa

As the global population grows, agri-food systems face numerous complex challenges. These challenges are further exacerbated as accelerating global warming, and other human activities, impact upon the adaption capacity of agricultural production and ecosystems.

These factors are predicted to have the most serious impact on the African continent. In North and West Africa, current farming systems face multiple challenges affecting agricultural productivity.

Agronomic systems and practices have caused the large-scale degradation of soils and agroecosystems, which has reduced their capacity to store water and nutrients and therefore their ability to support farming and maintain plant health.

To help address these challenges, The Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) is now coordinating an EU-funded project on Sustainable Intensification of food production in West and North Africa (SustInAfrica).

By developing resilient and sustainable farming systems in West and North Africa SustInAfrica aims to empower smallholder farmers, small and medium-sized enterprises and various government and non-governmental organizations in Ghana, Burkina Faso, Niger, Egypt and Tunisia, to intensify food production and deliver ecosystem services in a sustainable and resilient manner.

“The project will strive to attain this by providing a comprehensive analysis of local ecosystems, in addition to offering soil, water and plant health management strategies. It will also provide business models and policies and help develop related technologies that support farmers in their decision making”, says project coordinator Nils Borchard.

Read also Mechanisation of rice farming in Kenya – Mwea Irrigation scheme

Two Universities and two Non-Governmental Organizations from Ghana, including the University of Cape Coast (UCC) are key project partners of SustInAfrica. The UCC is the lead partner of Work Package 3 (WP3) of the project.

WP3 involves targeted design and implementation of smart farming demonstration trials, for resilient and sustainable agricultural production and the delivery of ecosystem services in selected agro-ecological zones in Ghana.

Prof Kwame Agyei-Frimpong of the School of Agriculture is the Principal Investigator (PI) and also coordinates WP3 for all African partners.

Other members of the UCC team include Dr Michael Osei Adu, Ms. Fatimah Abubakari Von and Dr. Ransford Opoku Darko, all of the School of Agriculture, UCC.

Read also Build more irrigation facilities, physically-challenged farmer to President Akufo-Addo

SustInAfrica (www.sustinafrica.com) consists of 16 partner organizations from 11 countries. The project commenced on the 1.9.2020 and will continue for five years. Funding for the project comes from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 program.

Local contact information: • PI: Prof Kwame Agyei-Frimpong; Department of Soil Science. kfrimpong@ucc.edu.gh • Deputy PI: Dr Michael Osei Adu; Department of Crop Science. michael.adu@ucc.edu.gh

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