Organic agriculture has the potential to improve both crop yields and incomes of smallholder farms in sub-Saharan Africa substantially – this is shown in a unique collaborative study from the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) and its partners that has just been published in the renowned journal Global Environmental Change.

 organic agriculture in Africa

This study further demonstrates that in real smallholder farm setting, the potential mentioned is difficult to exploit fully and requires sound implementation.

Can organic agriculture contribute to food security and rural development in Africa?

There is a controversial on-going debate about whether organic agriculture can contribute to food security and rural development in Africa. The now published study delivers new scientific evidence on the potential of organic agriculture. The study is ground breaking as it:

  • Assesses different kinds of organic agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) in different real farm settings.
  • Has enough sample size (1645 farms), detailed data over a two-year time horizon and a scientifically sound comparison with a comparable conventional control group.

The now published study delivers new scientific evidence on the potential of organic agriculture

Therefore, for the first time this study clearly showed how different forms of organic agriculture performed in different real farm settings in SSA and to what extent they can contribute to sustainable development.

Conclusions

In conclusion, organic agriculture has the potential to substantially boost productivity and farm incomes while contributing to sustainable development in Africa if implemented well. But organic agriculture is certainly not a silver bullet for solving food insecurity issues in SSA. In particular, the implementation of organic agriculture in smallholder settings is complex and might fail if farmers don’t have the capacities to implement good organic management practices like crop rotations, compost making, mixed cropping systems.

This study revealed the many different forms of organic agriculture practices in sub-Sahara Africa and will help to develop policies and targeted support for sustainable agriculture and food security in SSA.

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