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Matching food demand and cropland availability in Sub-Saharan Africa: Limiting cropland expansion by producing food more efficiently

Infographic | 06-07-2017

Sustainable Development Goal 2 aims to end world hunger. In the light of the staggering population growth expected for many African countries, the foreseeable increase in productivity will not be enough to meet the resulting food demand in 2050. Unlike the situation in most other regions, expansion of agricultural areas is urgently needed in Sub-Saharan Africa. At the same time, SDG 15 aims to halt biodiversity loss, and the desire to meet both SDGs has triggered a heated debate on the trade-offs between them.

One way to make these SDGs compatible is to limit further expansion and produce food in a more sustainable manner. Between 1990 and 2010, the intensification of production practices and the rise in yields in particular were the main drivers of growth in domestic food production in Africa. Agricultural expansion played a minor role in the increases.

To continue these positive developments into the future an integrated pathway that serves several SDGs by combining economic growth, reduction of inequality and conservation of natural areas. To end world hunger and simultaneously preserve natural areas, agricultural productivity needs to increase by using resources, such as fertilisers and land, more efficiently and reduce food losses along production and supply chains. 

Source data

Doelman JC, Stehfest E, Tabeau A, Van Meijl H, Lassaletta L, Gernaat DEHJ, Neumann-Hermans K, Harmsen M, Daioglou V, Biemans H and Van Vuuren DP. (forthcoming). Exploring SSP land-use dynamics using the IMAGE model: regional and gridded scenarios of land-use change and landbased climate change mitigation. Global Environmental Change.

FAO (2017). FAOSTAT Food and Agriculture Data. http://faostat.fao.org/, accessed 28 February 2017.

Popp A, Calvin K, Fujimori S, Havlik P, Humpenöder F, Stehfest E, Bodirsky BL, Dietrich JP, Doelmann JC and Gusti M. (2017). Land-use futures in the shared socio-economic pathways. Global Environmental Change 42:331–345.

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