Category Archives: Africa

We Need to Focus on the Globe’s Young Populations (Demography)

Unless the people making projections about how to feed the world decades down the road understand “demography”, their ideas may be futile. Projected regional population growths will dictate much in the way of food consumption needs, as well as politics and international conflicts and global securities of many kinds.

My own expectation is mass migrations and the resulting conflicts they will bring.

This info graphic from the Wilson Center contains some sobering statistics.

Historically, democratic governments are much less likely in countries with young populations.

222 Million women, most in fast-growing, youthful countries, want access to modern contraception but do not have it.

source: (This link will provide a larger version of the info graphic, too.)

A Barrier Net Instead of Pesticides or Greenhouses Proves Successful in Africa for Growing Vegetables

In Kenya and Tanzania, farm producers are turning to a physical barrier to keep bugs out instead of using chemicals. Called Eco-Friendly Nets or Agronets, they can save growers 90 percent in pesticide costs and allow the farm to be classified as organic.

The nets are used for growing tomatoes, cabbages, kales, spinach, capsicum, and other vegetables.

They cost much less than constructing a greenhouse, and just may produce healthier crops than a greenhouse. Farmers using them have drastically increased their output of tomatoes since they help create a micro-climate which increases the heat and lessens the time required for maturity, in addition to restricting pests.

The nets are affordable for many of the small scale farmers.

AgroNet is a family of clear netting products developed by A to Z Textile Mills based in Arusha for use in horticulture—vegetables, fruit and ornamentals.


Africa: Scaling Up Food Production. From July’s National Geographic Issue.

This featured piece is the latest from National Geographic’s eight-month long “Future of Food” series. This month’s subject title is FOOD: THE NEXT BREADBASKET. It explains the story of Africa’s potential to increase food production, the subject of land grabs, and the subject of optimal farm sizes and methods.

The following is an excerpt from the July issue of National Geographic:

She never saw the big tractor coming. First it plowed up her banana trees. Then her corn. Then her beans, sweet potatoes, cassava. Within a few, dusty minutes the one-acre plot near Xai-Xai, Mozambique, which had fed Flora Chirime and her five children for years, was consumed by a Chinese corporation building a 50,000-acre farm, a green-and-brown checkerboard of fields covering a broad stretch of the Limpopo River Delta.

“No one even talked to me,” the 45-year-old Chirime says, her voice rising with anger. “Just one day I found the tractor in my field plowing up everything. No one who lost their machamba has been compensated!” Local civil society groups say thousands lost their land and livelihoods to the Wanbao Africa Agricultural Development Company—all with the blessing of the Mozambican government, which has a history of neglecting local farmers’ rights to land in favor of large investments. Those who managed to get jobs on the giant farm are working seven days a week with no overtime pay. A spokesman for Wanbao denied such allegations and stressed that it’s training local farmers to grow rice. (Read the rest at National Geographic)

These next images are also from the July 2014 issue of National Geographic:

© Robin Hammond/National Geographic
Berbera, where these sheep and goats are being led to the ship bound for Saudi Arabia, has been a key port for Arab traders since the second century. Saudi Arabia imports 80 percent of its food, with meat consumption projected to rise this decade—good news for Somaliland’s nomadic herders.

© Robin Hammond/National Geographic
Using hand tools and draft animals, a family harvests wheat in Ethiopia’s famine-prone highlands. Education has helped small farmers become more efficient, but wheat yields are still a third below the world’s average. With more than a third of Ethiopians malnourished, the government is courting industrial farms to help close the gap.

© Robin Hammond/National Geographic
This land outside Maputo provides a snapshot of Africa’s agricultural choices: Will its food be produced on giant, leveled plantations like Bananalandia (at left) or on small farms, called machambas? “It must be a mix of big ag and small,” says Dries Gouws, the sprawling banana farm’s founder.

(July 2014 Cover of National Geographic)