Chapter 39 - Toward Multifunctional Agriculture – An African Initiative

Chapter 39 - Toward Multifunctional Agriculture – An African Initiative

Abstract: 

Sustainable Intensification is especially important in Africa where the need is greatest. We present eleven targets for action, paying specific attention to the needs of poor smallholder farmers in Africa. We describe multi-cropping systems integrating new crops developed from culturally-important traditional food species that intensify and enhance the productivity of smallholder farms by reducing the yield gap and providing multiple environmental, social and economic benefits. These include energy security and the creation of new local business and employment opportunities off-farm. We describe the integration of relatively simple activities to promote better soil fertility and income generation at the community level through the diversification of farming systems with trees, other food crops and livestock that increase total production. This approach, which is best developed in Cameroon, has been shown to meet the needs of food and nutritionally insecure smallholder farmers who also suffer poverty and social injustice at multiple, nested scales from farm through to landscapes and regions. This form of intensification integrates numerous different concepts of enhanced agricultural sustainability with conventional modern agricultural technologies and reverses the Cycle of Land Degradation and Social Deprivation. This leads to integrated rural development and visions of a better world. Consequently, we recommend that those wishing to address the complex and interacting issues which are the targets of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda should rethink the interventions needed by African farmers.