Improved Agricultural Technologies: Multiplier Effects on Food Security.

Improved Agricultural Technologies: Multiplier Effects on Food Security.

Reliance on crude and archaic systems of subsistence farming to achieve food security in Africa has not been sustainably yielding results which in comparison with the Green Revolution countries which adopted the necessary Improved Agricultural Technologies have been able to secure food security for themselves. Rural livelihoods in Africa depends on subsistence farming and the adoption of improved agricultural technologies has been neglected.

The need for Improved Agricultural Technologies(IATs) is to ensure that there is increased productivity which will reduce food insecurity and consequently lead to economic growth.

 Improved Agricultural Technologies:  IATs are simply the improved technologies applicable to agricultural activities such as “tilling the soil, planting seeds, irrigating the land, protecting from pests and weeds, harvesting, threshing grain, livestock feeding and sorting the farm products” which enables the outputs(yields) from the farms to be better, increased and productive. Improved Agricultural Technologies include High Yielding Varieties(HYVs) of seeds, tillage and ploughing implements (power tiller, rotary tiller, rototiller) attachable to a tractor, Planting Implements (broadcast seeders, seed drills, trans-planter), Fertilizer and Pest Control Implements (terragators, sprayers, manure spreaders; harvesting technologies such as cotton pickers, hullers, potato harvesters, sickle, swather…etc.

Agriculture may be one of the oldest professions, but with the development and adoption of improved agricultural technologies, there would be a dramatic drop in the number of people who can be described as farmers (as the number of laborers will be reduced and the few who will be doing the real farming job will have the increased productivity to show for it, for example). In the United States, less than 2% of the working population works in agriculture, yet they provide considerably more food than the other 98% can eat. Africa unfortunately has more than 70% of its working population engaged in agriculture yet they are unable to feed the whole population which is basically due to its inability to adopt improved agricultural technologies.

It is worthy of note to know that information barrier can sometimes prevent the adoption of IATs because farmers do not know of the existence of IATs and hence they find it difficult to adopt it.

Improved Agricultural Technologies(IATs) in relationship to Sustainable Agricultural Farming Systems (S.A.F.S.)

Sustainable Agricultural Farming Systems (SAFS) are the whole systems approach to food, feeds and other fibre production that balances environmental soundness, social equity and economic viability among all sectors of the public, including international and intergenerational people.

IATs are relevant to farmers who want to make them(SAFS) a priority for sustainable developmental efforts and who seek to achieve the goals of meeting society’s food and textile needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. For example, farmers engaged in subsistence farming in maize production achieve averagely 1-1.5tons/ha while their counterparts engaged in the adoption of IATs achieve averagely 5-7tons/ha. A careful consideration of the farmers adopting IATs is important else they would be considered inappropriate and subsequently ignore them. 

Food Security as it is affected by Improved Agricultural Technologies.

Food Security is a subject that needs to be considered when talking of IATs because of its long-run multiplier effect. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), food security is defined as when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.

From the definitions above, it can be deduced that there are four [4] main pillars on which the subject “food security” is hinged and they include: food availability, food access, food utilization and food stability.

To start with, Food Availability refers to the supply of food through production i.e. the cultivation of food, distribution and trade. Secondly, Food Access encompasses the economic and physical access to food. Improving access requires better market access for smallholder farmers allowing them to generate more income from cash crops, livestock products and other enterprises and this can be made possible through the use of Improved Agricultural Technologies. Food Utilization also refers to the metabolism of food by individuals I.e. how the body uses the food ingested into it. Lastly, we have Food Stability which refers to the ability to obtain food sustainably over time i.e. being able to have sufficient food at all times and this happens by sustainable agricultural systems.

The Benefits of Improved Agricultural Technologies(IATs) to its adopters:

 The usefulness of IATs cannot be over-emphasized thus it is needful to know that there are several positive effects that IATs have on its adopters.

1.            Helps to achieve higher returns from agricultural activities because they are highly motivated by increased production.

2.            Improved nutritional status is attained because improved technologies on inputs can have the inputs fortified and enriched with necessary nutrients.

3.            There is increased employment for people because improved agricultural technologies increase the yields which then leads to increased production which is encouraging.

4.            Adoption of IATs also helps to reduce the infestation of pests and lead to improved crop yields which enhances the efficiency of farm operations.

Farmers consider IATs when it leads to food security because they have seen the increase to their production levels and also the improved livelihoods that it has helped them achieve.