Production and storage

“Production and storage” has a focus on improving food security through sustainable intensification of crop production and reduction of post-harvest losses.

Crop production and post-harvest management are two important pillars that support food security because they can ensure a constant supply of raw materials. In view of increasing population pressure and limited resources, especially in Africa, there is a vital need for research and outreach activities on how to improve food security in the next decades combined with a more sustainable use of natural resources. Important factors that must be taken into account are the efficient use of water and fertilizers, adequate pest and disease management and ways to reduce post-harvest losses, amounting to 30-50% of food production losses globally. Therefore, a strong systems perspective on crop production is required that considers resource as well as consumer issues, such as the potential for changes in human diets or the reduction of waste and food losses.

This thematic area features contributions related to:

  • Quantifying and closing the yield and biomass gaps
  • Improving resource use efficiency (sustainable intensification)
  • Reducing post-harvest losses

Theme coordinator: Amit Kumar Srivastava

West Paul C, Gerber James S, Engstrom Peder M, Mueller Nathaniel D, Brauman Kate A, Carlson Kimberly M, Cassidy Emily S, Johnston Matt, MacDonald Graham K, Ray Deepak K, Siebert Stefan. 2014. Leverage points for improving global food security and the environment. Science

Achieving sustainable global food security is one of humanity’s contemporary challenges. Here we present an analysis identifying key “global leverage points” that offer the best opportunities to improve both global food security and environmental sustainability. We find that a relatively small set of places and actions could provide enough new calories to meet the basic needs for more than 3 billion people, address many environmental impacts with global consequences, and focus food waste reduction on the commodities with the greatest impact on food security. These leverage points in the global food system can help guide how nongovernmental organizations, foundations, governments, citizens’ groups, and businesses prioritize actions.

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Trawally D.M.A, Webber H, Agyare W A, Fosu M, Naab J, Gaiser Thomas. 2015. Modelling heat stress effect on two maize varieties in Northern Region of Ghana. Global Advanced Research Journal of Agricultural Science

Agriculture in Ghana accounts for more than 30% of GDP and three-quarters of export earnings. In Sub-Saharan Africa, climate change is predicted to affect the agricultural sector most. The objectives of this study were: to use the SIMPLACE (Scientific Impact assessment and Modelling Platform for Advanced Crop and Ecosystem management) to simulate maize yield under heat stress. To compare SIMPLACE model output with heat stress, and without heat stress. Finally simulate the effect of heat stress on maize yield depending on the sowing date. The study collected and analysed data from field experiments during the 2012/2013 dry season and repeated in 2014 at Botanga irrigation site and the 2014 rainy season at Gbulahagu farming community based on three (3) sowing dates (SD). Comparing the SIMPLACE model output to the observed field data, the duration of development phases were predicted with acceptable accuracy among the three sowing dates. Simulated and observed showed good agreement for maize biomass at several growth stages of the maize. The heat stress component of SIMPLACE gave a good prediction for yield under heat stress when no other stress (water, nutrients) occurred. The estimations of the final yield showed an over estimation when the model was run with no heat stress condition in the rainy season experiment in particular under nutrient stress. The model was successfully parameterized and evaluated for simulating the effect of heat stress on maize yield under no nutrient and drought stress and can therefore be used as a research tool in the study area.

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Siebert Stefan, Ewert Frank. 2014. Future crop production threatened by extreme heat. Environmental Research Letters

Heat is considered to be a major stress limiting crop growth and yields. While important findings on the impact of heat on crop yield have been made based on experiments in controlled environments, little is known about the effects under field conditions at larger scales. The study of Deryng et al (2014 Global crop yield response to extreme heat stress under multiple climate change futures Environ. Res. Lett. 9 034011), analysing the impact of heat stress on maize, spring wheat and soya bean under climate change, represents an important contribution to this emerging research field. Uncertainties in the occurrence of heat stress under field conditions, plant responses to heat and appropriate adaptation measures still need further investigation.

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Porkka Miina, Kummu Matti, Siebert Stefan, Varis Olli. 2013. From food insufficiency towards trade dependency: a historical analysis of global food availability. PLoS One

Achieving global food security is one of the major challenges of the coming decades. In order to tackle future food security challenges we must understand the past. This study presents a historical analysis of global food availability, one of the key elements of food security. By calculating national level dietary energy supply and production for nine time steps during 1965–2005 we classify countries based on their food availability, food self-sufficiency and food trade. We also look at how diets have changed during this period with regard to supply of animal based calories. Our results show that food availability has increased substantially both in absolute and relative terms. The percentage of population living in countries with sufficient food supply (>2500 kcal/cap/d) has almost doubled from 33% in 1965 to 61% in 2005. The population living with critically low food supply (<2000 kcal/cap/d) has dropped from 52% to 3%. Largest improvements are seen in the MENA region, Latin America, China and Southeast Asia. Besides, the composition of diets has changed considerably within the study period: the world population living with high supply of animal source food (>15% of dietary energy supply) increased from 33% to over 50%. While food supply has increased globally, food self-sufficiency (domestic production>2500 kcal/cap/d) has not changed remarkably. In the beginning of the study period insufficient domestic production meant insufficient food supply, but in recent years the deficit has been increasingly compensated by rising food imports. This highlights the growing importance of food trade, either for food supply in importing countries or as a source of income for exporters. Our results provide a basis for understanding past global food system dynamics which, in turn, can benefit research on future food security.

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Partey Samuel T, Sarfo Daniel A, Frith Oliver, Kwaku Michael, Thevathasan Naresh V. 2017. Potentials of Bamboo-Based Agroforestry for Sustainable Development in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Review. Agricultural Research

There is widespread assertion among scientists, government and development experts that bamboo agroforestry could contribute to sustainable rural development in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). However, there are limited available data to verify the suitability of the system in the region. In addition, the current state of knowledge and adoption of agroforestry in SSA offers very little guidance as to which type of agroforestry systems bamboo could be integrated. Here, we reviewed the potential socioeconomic and environmental benefits of bamboo agroforestry and accentuate implications on sustainable rural development in SSA. In addition, we analysed potential research areas that could be intensified, so that future developments and scaling-up of bamboo agroforestry can be rooted in robust scientific findings rather than the intuitions of governments and development actors.

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Leta Gerba, Kelboro Girma, Stellmacher Till, van Assche Kristof, Hornidge Anna-Katharina. 2018. Nikinake: the mobilization of labour and skill development in rural Ethiopia. Natural Resources Forum

A public mobilization approach known as nikinake drives implementation and technology upscaling in Ethiopia's agricultural extension. This study investigates and describes the processes and effectiveness of nikinake as an extension method used for natural resource management (NRM). The paper draws on empirical field research conducted in Oromia and the southern region of Ethiopia by looking at nikinake in the context of a watershed management campaign in 2015 and 2016. Nikinake is used as an approach to mobilize the public and to promote the skills of farmers and development actors. In principle, the implementation of NRM is voluntary; however, it is largely planned top‐down and enforced through state actors and informal institutions. This study suggests effective integration of social mobilization with reliable extension and a paradigm shift in emphasis from spatial coverage to an effective outcome. Additionally, sustainability and scalability of NRM interventions could be ameliorated by improving experts’ technical skills, raising farmers’ awareness, improving an incentive system, building trust, and better integrating past watershed management and future planning activities. We reflect on the significance of the nikinake experience in Ethiopia for a broader theory of extension‐as‐mobilization for rural development. From the Ethiopian case, a more general recommendation emerges for extension‐as‐mobilization schemes. For long‐term development, it is worthwhile to consider the fit between yearly campaigns as ad hoc project organizations and the existing pattern of actors and institutions responsible for rural development.

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Kumela Teshome, Simiyu Josephine, Sisay Birhanu, Likhayo Paddy, Mendesil Esayas, Gohole Linnet, Tefera Tadele. 2018. Farmers knowledge, perceptions, and management practices of the new invasive pest, fall armyworm in Ethiopia and Kenya. International Journal of Pest Management

This paper reports for the first time on farmers’ knowledge, perceptions and management practices of the fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) in Ethiopia and Kenya. A survey of 343 smallholder maize farmers was conducted. Most farmers in Ethiopia and Kenya had knowledge about fall armyworm; they could identify it mainly during its larval stage. Furthermore, most farmers in Ethiopia (93%) and Kenya (97%) encountered damage by fall armyworm in their farms. They estimated an average of 32% crop damage in Ethiopia and 47.3% of crop damage in Kenya, with an estimated yield reduction between 0.8 to 1 tonnes/ha. Nearly half of the farmers relied on chemical insecticides to control this pest. The majority (60%) of the farmers in Kenya perceived that insecticides were not effective in controlling fall armyworm as compared to most farmers (46%) in Ethiopia who perceived that chemical spray is effective for the control of fall armyworm. In Ethiopia, 26% of the farmers combined handpicking larvae with insecticide sprays, whilst 15% of the farmers practiced only handpicking. The present study highlights the need to develop management strategies for fall armyworm based on farmers’ needs and priorities.

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