Several studies have shown the global increase in food demand by 2050 can be met by increasing yields on existing cropland, but a new study finds that countries in Africa south of the Sahara likely will be unable to meet growing cereal demand through yield increases alone. An anticipated 2.5-fold population increase by 2050, combined with income growth, is expected to triple current cereal demand in the region and will require a multi-pronged approach to food security. The study, “Can sub-Saharan Africa feed itself,” examined 10 countries in Africa south of the Sahara that jointly make up the majority of population and arable land in the region: Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.
The researchers found that cereal yields would need to increase from 20pct of their potential to 80pct to maintain current levels of self-sufficiency. Even with this increase in yield more farmland would be needed to attain full self-sufficiency, which is in short supply in much of the region. Ensuring food security in the region will therefore still require increased trade and food imports.