Political support is strong and growing as African presidents start to pay attention to the importance of agriculture in overall economic transformation. "They are also benefiting from exemplary leadership provided by Malawi's Bingu wa Mutharika who until recently also doubled as the country's agriculture minister.
And, Prof. Juma notes, China, India, Brazil and others are recognizing Africa's overwhelming potential with a rising level of strategic investment.
Originally intended as a series of monographs for African leaders, the work has attracted such widespread interest it is being published in book form by Oxford University Press.
According to "The New Harvest," global agriculture over the past 40 years has been characterized by per capita food production growth of 17 per cent and total production up 145 per cent. African agriculture in that time has gone in the other direction: Production of coffee, cocoa and other export commodities has grown, but food production has dropped 10 per cent since 1960 because of low investment in the sector.
Agricultural yields, farm incomes and poverty rates were stagnant and in some cases worsened during those four decades. Although 70 per cent of Africans are engaged in farming, production is so low that nearly 250 million people, one-quarter of the population, are undernourished - a figure that has risen by 100 million since 1990. One-third of sub-Saharan Africans are chronically hungry, while drought, soil degradation and disease appear endemic.
Only four per cent of the continent's cropland is irrigated. Fertilizers, pesticides and high-quality seeds are expensive and in short supply. Only a small minority of farmers uses machinery that's commonplace in Europe and North America. Deforestation is spreading as farmers seek to replace exhausted fields.
Water and ene
|Contact: Terry Collins|
Harvard Kennedy Schools Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs