Chapter 7: Challenges of Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security in the Sub-Sahara – M. A. Badejo

Department of Zoology, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife.



This paper examines the challenges of Sustainable Agriculture in Nigeria in respect of possibilities of achieving food security in sub-Saharan countries in Africa. It establishes the concept of sustainability as being achievable and provides evidence of food insecurity in Nigeria. The paper identifies the Sub-Sahara region as a mega-diverse one where rainfall and temperature regimes vary greatly. Low agricultural productivity in the Northern sub-sahara is attributed more to nutrient deficiency than shortage of water. Factors responsible for loss of Nitrogen and Phosphorous were highlighted and remedies were suggested. Nitrogen loss could be abated by planting tree species that are endemic to the savanna region as well as legumes that are involved in biological nitrogen fixation. Aerial application of phosphorous, in addition to nutrients from animal droppings are confirmed to be capable of stimulating the growth of naturally occurring leguminous plants which will in turn provide food for livestock. Pastoralist grazing was identified as a good option for restoration of productivity in the Sahel and Savanna regions. The high potential of ecological agriculture in improving soil biotic conditions by restoring soil micro-arthropod populations, thereby enhancing decomposition and nutrient release were stressed. Food insecurity in Nigeria in particular is attributed to the failure of successive agricultural programmes and policies since independence. Biotechnological techniques that are reliable in increasing agricultural productivity in the sub-sahara in respect of crop and livestock production as well as food processing are highlighted. Those that are not feasible due to technical problems and huge costs are also identified.Microbial inoculant technology was recommended as the most promising bio-technical technique that is highly desirable in many Sub-Saharan countries. Attention was drawn to the fact that food insecurity in Sub-Saharan countries is due to poverty, inequality and lack of access to food and not overpopulation, because there are sparsely populated countries where the citizens are hungry. In order to ensure food security in the Sub-Sahara, it is recommended that application of appropriate agricultural technologies based on environmentally friendly agro-ecological principles is intensified.

Key words: Sub-Sahara, sustainable agriculture, food security, agricultural productivity, nutrient deficiency, micro arthropods, ecological agriculture, biotechnological techniques, agroecology.

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