Yields for small-holder farmers in sub-saharan Africa are only 15-20% of those in similar climatic regions. Closing the yield gap on these underperforming crop lands could address problems of malnutrition in these regions as well as supporting economic growth.
The relative contribution of political, cultural and environmental factors contributing to the lack of agricultural development in sub-Saharan Africa is a matter of much debate but it has been suggested that the Green revolution strategies of the 1960s were not appropriate where population densities were low, land was cheap and market infrastructure was poor (Pingali, 2012).
Africa does however have abundant arable land and labour, which with the right political support, could be translated into food security for the region (Juma, 2011). It is unsurprising then that African countries and the international community continue to seek a Green revolution in Africa. However, an African Green Revolution that is underpinned by environmental sustainability must address the limited availability of nitrogen, but also address the challenge that faces our agricultural system globally: meeting growing food needs while simultaneously reducing agricultures' environmental harm.