Agriculture, Technology and Development and Sweet Potatoes in Sub-Saharan Africa José Falck Zepeda

Research Fellow Environment and Production Technology Division (EPTD) Program for Biosafety Systems (PBS)

From left to right: a) Contained greenhouse , KARI Kenya, b) Prof. Paarlberg, KARI, Nairobi, c) Dr. Charles Waturu, Leader Cotton Program, Thika, Kenya

World Development Report 2008: Agriculture‟s role in the economy
• Agriculture essential for overall growth in agriculture-based countries

• Agriculture is a source of livelihoods for billions, but a huge reservoir of poverty
• Impressive historical successes in using agriculture for rural poverty reduction
• Stagnant yields in Sub-Saharan Africa • Rising rural-urban income disparities in the transforming countries

• Agriculture major user (and abuser) of natural resources

Agriculture Value Added, 2000 (Million constant US$)

World Development Report 2008: Agriculture and poverty
• 75% of the world‟s poor are rural and most are involved in farming • In the 21st century, agriculture continues to be fundamental for sustainable development and poverty reduction • Agriculture needs to be reinstated to a prominent level in public investments and donor priorities

The Agricultural Paradox “Everybody says its important, few are willing to put money into it”

Why do we need significant improvements in agricultural productivity / efficiency?
• • • • Population growth Increased urbanization Reduction in land dedicated to agriculture Increases income leading to changes in diet • Climate change/variability • Land degradation • Water issues

The world population by region

Africa‟s population and growth by region

Rates of population growth in Africa are still high - 2.4 per cent a year compared to a world average of 1.3 per cent

But rates are expected to decline up to 2050

Urban population dynamics
Annual percent increase in urban population Urban population by region (% of regional totals)

Urbanization growth rates are falling overall

Nearly half the world population now lives in urban areas. Africa, and Asia and the Pacific, are the world's least urbanized regions

Percent growth in urbanization level of total population since 1972 and to 2015: Africa

Source: GEO-3: Global Environmental Outlook. Extracted 2010

African climate change vulnerability

Source: GEO-3: Global Environmental Outlook. Extracted 2010 3/english/410.htm#fig248a

Africa: nominal GDP per capita (US$)

Source: Wikipedia 2010 ©, extracted 2010

Hunger alleviation: Some progress and some setbacks

Source: Von Grebmer, et al. 2009

WDR 2008: Main messages
• Growth requires a productivity revolution in smallholder farming • Proactive approaches addressing institutional issues
– Disparity problem requires a comprehensive approach – Reduction agriculture‟s large environmental footprint and climate proofing farming systems – Promising new roles for environmental services for agriculture – Open multiple pathways out of poverty such as commercial smallholders, workers in agriculture and the RNFE, and migrants – Improve local, national, and global

Yield growth of major field crops Sub-Saharan Africa 1996-2006

Source, FAOSTAT, 2010

The global sweet potato yield gap, 1980-2008
Average higher Average Difference than 50 lower than percentile 50 percentile 12,327 4,140 8,186 Average higher Average Difference than 75 lower than percentile 75 percentile 15,862 5,573 10,289 Average higher Average Difference than 90 higher less percentile than 90 percentile 21,704 6,766 14,939 % Difference

% Difference

• Significant global yield gap
– But may be overstated

185% % Difference


• Source: extracted from FAOSTAT

Yield distribution Sub-Saharan Africa
Higher than 90 percentile 75 percentile 50 percentile SSA Countries Zambia Sudan, Mauritius, Liberia Niger, Senegal, Somalia, Mali, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Angola 25 percentile Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Cameroon, Madagascar, Cape Verde, Nigeria, Congo DR, Benin, Guinea 0-25 percentile Uganda, Togo, Chad, E. Guinea, Sierra Leone, Côte d'Ivoire, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Gabon, Ghana, Mauritania, Maldives
Source: Extracted from FAOSTAT 2010

Yield gap sweet potato Sub-Saharan Africa compared to rest of the world, 1980-2008
Average of higher than 90 percentile Average of higher than 75 percentile Average of higher than 50 percentile Africa average (excluding Zambia)

Yield (Kg/ha) 21,704

Yield Gap 15,447 (247%) 9,832 (157%)
6,178 (99%)




Source: Extracted from FAOSTAT 2010

Addressing the sweet potato yield gap in Sub-Saharan Africa
• The following was extracted from “Chapter 16 Sweet Potato in SubSaharan Africa” of the book “The Sweet Potato” by Low et al. 2009
– Experiments conducted in 12 East African environments with 15 improved genotypes using clean planting material yielded an average of 24.2 t/ha, compared to the average yield in the region of 5.6 t/ha (Grüneberg et al., 2004) – The dissemination of clean planting material of improved varieties is capable of at least doubling current average yields under rainfed conditions from 6 to 12 t/ha. – Combining such introductions with improved crop and soil fertility management practices could at least triple existing yields obtained by smallholder farmers to 18–20 t/ha – Irrigation supplied in a timely manner could also contribute to an additional 30% yield increase (Niederwieser, 2004).

Constraints / limitations to increased sweet potato production
• • • • Low yields: soil fertility, weed control Pest and diseases Labor shortages Production systems and holding size :
– Well known smallholder issues including access to credit, productive and protective inputs, land tenure issues, etc.

• • • •

Inadequate research and extension services Low multiplication ratios and quality of planting material Post-harvest technologies Socio-economic and institutional issues
Source: Okigbo 1986, Low et al. 2009

The need for a biotechnological innovation revolution for smallholder farmers in Africa
• Exhausted conventional plant breeding approaches in many crops • No viable alternatives for controlling some pests and diseases
• Alternatively, chemical and other conventional control mechanisms may be too expensive for smallholder producers

Why GM crop technologies?
• Embodied technologies  it‟s in the seed or planting material!

• Can be deployed in low resource use production systems
• Address specific productivity constraints not easily addressed / intractable problems

Why GM crop technologies?...
• Flexible – fit with other production systems
– GM and Integrated Pest Management – GM and organic production

• Impacts can be non-pecuniary, indirect, and scale neutral

• Scalable

Lessons from 1st generation GM crops
• GM crop impacts have been in average, positive
– But, average masks significant variability across households, regions, countries, crops and traits

– No different than any other technology in human history!!

• Limiting institutional issues => negative and/or highly variable outcomes

Lessons from 1st generation GM crops…
• Institutional issues including knowledge flows will determine outcome and impact • Remarkable history of safe use
• Positive impacts on environment, biodiversity and society/economy possible

We need the 2nd generation of GM crops
• 2nd generation GM crops: increased attention to improvements in production, productivity-efficiency and consumer benefits • We may have no choice but to pursue appropriate first and second generation GM crops based on projected/expected demand and supply conditions
IF they prove their worth benefiting society

• Pay special attention to innovative ways to use first & second generation GM crops => Strigaway technology
Is the R&D pipeline there to respond to multiple and more complex problems? For developing countries?

Challenges in and for developing countries – Investments and priorities
• Insufficient R&D investments
• Identification of priority crops, traits and technology choices
– Perhaps need more participatory approaches to innovation, not less…
– Reconnecting plant improvement systems with final clients and their needs

Challenges in and for developing countries – Investments and priorities…
• From public sector to private sector lead innovation systems
– Public sector in developing countries is investing in biotechnology R&D and other emerging technologies – Increasingly complex institutional partnerships

• Investments and the reality of small fragmented agroeconomic-ecologic niches in developing countries

Challenges for developing countries - Biosafety
• Regulated technologies
– Compliance with biosafety regulations assure that the technology meet an agreed safety standard – Risk assessments and decision making

• Regulatory compliance needs to be done in a cost effective manner
– Excessively precautionary regulations – beyond what is need to prove safety – is costly, unnecessary and a waste of scarce resources – Regulatory costs can reduce innovation stream and impact public sector and small private firms disproportionately

Challenges for developing Countries – Production paradigms
• Avoid focusing on technological solutions to complex problems
– BUT, technology is definitively part of the “solution”

• We cannot avoid the political context • Critical to explore complementarities and synergies of current production systems
– From a compartmentalized production systems to a highly interactive and flexible production system – From „best practice‟ to „best fit‟ to 'best mix of modular components‟

• Thank you very much!!! • Asante Sana!!! • Weebale Nnyo!!! • Muchas gracias!!!