Maize is cultivated by approximately 55 million smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. Farmers’ current maize yields are 50 to 75% lower than attainable yields. The persisting yield gap has been attributed to many biophysical and socioeconomic factors, and are exacerbated by extant weak support systems for wide technology adoption among farmers.
In East and Central Africa banana cultivation covers over 50% of the area under permanent crop cover, representing around half of the area under banana cultivation across Africa. This is currently annually equivalent to about 21 million tons of banana, valued at $4.3 billion for East and Central African countries (Burundi, DR Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda).
For the last five years, IITA has been intensifying its cassava value chain research in Zambia, supported by different development partners and donors. These include the Mitigating Cassava Disease Threats for Improving Cassava Production in Zambia project, a subcomponent of the Zambia Feed-the-Future research-for-development Program funded by USAID; the Support to Agricultural Research for Development of Strategic Crops in Africa (SARD-SC) in Africa project funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB); and the Smallholder Agribusiness Promotion Program (SAPP)-Cassava Intervention Plan funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) through the country’s Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL)
The majority of the world’s cocoa, about 70%, is produced in West and Central Africa by Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, and Cameroon. Around 6 million ha are planted to the crop in the region, mostly in smallholder farms. Despite feeding the global chocolate market, worth an estimated US$98.3 billion, the regional cocoa sector is still besieged by persistent problems such as pests and diseases, ageing trees, outdated farming techniques, and limited research support.
Agriculture is the backbone of Mozambique’s economy, with over 80% of the total population depending on agriculture for food, income, and employment. In 2010, agriculture generated approximately 23% of the gross national product, suggesting low returns to labor. Therefore, accelerating agricultural growth is key to eradicating poverty and improving food security especially in the rural areas. However, several biophysical and socioeconomic factors continue to undermine efforts to address these challenges.
Soybean production in southern Africa is complicated by the occurrence of frequent droughts and poor soils, especially those low in phosphorus. During the 2015/2016 season, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, and Zimbabwe experienced one of the worst droughts in decades, with very few farmers getting a decent harvest.
Seed companies play a key role in enhancing the production and productivity of maize in West Africa as they provide farmers access to higher yielding and more stress-tolerant hybrids and open-pollinated varieties (OPVs).