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Feeding the Future
What Smarter Farming Can Do for African Food Security

In southern Africa, a terrible drought is devastating crops and creating severe food shortages. But as Reuters reports, some hopeful solutions are within reach:

In many cases, farmers are simply not aware of potential solutions, said Oluyede Ajayi, a senior program coordinator with the [Technical Center for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation]…Such shortcomings are one reason an ongoing drought in southern Africa has left 23 million people dependent on food aid, with another 13 million in need of help, according to the Southern African Development Community, which launched a $2.8 billion emergency appeal in July. […]

The best ways to assist southern Africa’s farmers, agricultural experts said, are by increasing their access to insurance for crop failure and livestock deaths, and giving them better weather advice via mobile phone.

Helping them diversify their sources of income also is key, they said, as is developing stress-tolerant seeds and better ways of managing land to conserve water.

Modern environmentalism carries in its core a kernel of Malthusianism, and too often greens seem almost resigned to the awful fate to which they say humanity has doomed itself. Climate change is real and it’s a problem, but it’s not something we’re helpless to fight. Similarly, feeding a growing global population presents a wide variety of challenges that vary by region and are deadly important but, again, we’re not resigned to widespread starving in the coming years.

In southern Africa, there’s room to adopt best practices like raising sheep, chickens, and goats—all relatively independent and drought resistant—instead of cattle. As one expert told Reuters, “farmers who are growing stress-tolerant maize using water-conserving techniques have seen their harvests rise by as much as 130 percent.” There’s room for improvement, and while some are already capitalizing on that, there are even more that could stand to improve—and can, if the right technologies and strategies are implemented.

Don’t be fooled by the Chicken Littles: human ingenuity is up to the task of tackling all those many problems greens so enthusiastically describe.

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