Agriculture remains a key pillar in economies of many Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) countries. Despite many efforts to improve agricultural productivity and food security systems, several SSA countries continue to grapple with the twin challenges of poverty and food/nutrition insecurity. Majority of rural population live below the poverty line and face declining crop and livestock productivity.
Although great milestones have been witnessed in the world since the first green revolution, most small holder farmers especially in SSA are still trapped in subsistence farming with limited commercialization and slow rates of technology diffusion. Their agricultural production systems are still characterized by poor and declining/stagnated yields, high susceptibility to pests and diseases.
These challenges are even complicated by extreme weather conditions associated with climate change and rapid degradation of farmers’ most valuable asset, Land, which can be linked to population growth. It is worth noting that researchers have developed technologies that can help to deal with most of the challenges facing agriculture currently. Such technologies and innovations include: drought tolerant varieties (e.g. DTM, WEMA), agricultural biotechnology solutions, pest resistant varieties, high yielding livestock breeds, integrated soil management strategies and mobile phone based information dissemination techniques. However, technology diffusion in many parts of Africa has been slow, and therefore the impact of these technologies has been very limited. Further, due to infrastructural challenges, incidences of high (market) transaction costs leading to market failure, most small holder farmers also are not fully integrated into high value markets so as to take advantage of globalization of agricultural value chains. A relatively new twist to the agricultural challenge is that of population density growth.
The challenge is twofold. First , high population densities have resulted to unsustainable forms of agricultural intensification: land fragmentation, reduced fallows and continuous use of acidic inorganic fertilizers. The ultimate result of these trends have been increased soil degradation, reduced yield response to input use and therefore even lower agricultural productivity, compromising sustainability in agricultural production (Jayne et al., 2014). Second , in most agrarian countries, population growth rates have been relatively high and it is estimated that by 2050, SSA will be home to about 2.1 Billion people (Haub and Kaneda, 2013). The largest proportion of this population (65%) will be the youth below the age of 35, with approximately 10 Million youths entering the job market annually (Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA, 2015). Given the slow economic development pace in many African countries, it is hard to expect the industry and service sectors to grow substantially to absorb all the youths entering the job market. Therefore, agriculture, the alternative sector, has to play a critical role of providing employment to the youths. However, the biggest hurdle is that a lot has to be done to increase commercial viability of agricultural enterprises so as to make agricultural returns attractive therefore making agriculture the profession of choice for the young job seekers, most of whom have a negative attitude towards agriculture. Against this backdrop, Kenyatta University and other partners are planning a conference to highlight the successes and bottlenecks in agricultural intensification, commercialization, building sustainable value chains, making agriculture attractive for the youth and applying ICT and other potentially beneficial technologies in agriculture. This conference will therefore aim at highlighting the key challenges that could hinder policy makers and farmers in SSA from commercializing agriculture while protecting the environment. The conference will also aim at showcasing emerging opportunities in commercialized agriculture.
- Abstract submission deadline:15.10.2016
- Submission of full papers:30.10.2016
- Registration opens : 30.08.2016
- Registration Deadline: 30.10.2016
The international conference on enhancing sustainable crop and livestock production and marketing systems will add to the understanding on the importance of enhancing agricultural productivity on economic development. The specific objectives will be to:
1. Assess the current milestones towards building sustainable agricultural production and marketing systems.
2. Identify and share best practices in transfer of agricultural technologies and assess barriers hindering the transfer of such technologies.
3. Identify emerging challenges and bottlenecks on commercial crop and livestock production.
4. Explore innovative approaches and policy options for addressing emerging challenges (e.g. soil degradation, land fragmentation and youth and gender issues) in the Agricultural sector towards achieving sustainable productivity.
5. Identify existing ICT innovations applicable to agriculture and options for fast adoption among farmers.