A recent meeting with the Grow Africa team at the World Economic Forum brought home the urgent need to find sustainable pathways for feeding a growing global population while not mortgaging the earth. Africa is eyed for filling the gap, with low average yields per hectare, limited infrastructure, and (by some accounts) abundant 'unused' land.
Clearly we know that land in Africa never goes 'unused'…though, it is true, it may not be tilled or cultivated. Nor should all of the arable land in Africa be cultivated. There are places that need conserving—for wildlife and for people—because wetlands and forests and grasslands provide vital ecosystem services that we all depend on.
Where agriculture does take place, though, it should be productive and vibrant. AWF is working in places like the Southern Tanzania Agriculture Growth Corridor (SAGCOT) to combine land and resource planning, enterprise development, and education and capacity support to create sustainable and productive landscapes for people and wildlife. By engaging in the transformation of African agriculture, we are helping to conserve the healthy ecosystems needed to safeguard soils, cycle nutrients, retain and cycle water, and regulate local climates. And we are doing it in ways that support productive agriculture that nourishes families, provides revenues for households, and creates pathways out of poverty.
Andrea Athanas is a Program Design Manager with the African Wildlife Foundation. She has experience building business practices for biodiversity conservation and advising companies such as Shell, Nestle Nespresso, and Rio Tinto on managing their environmental footprints. Her current portfolio focuses on bringing wildlife conservation into the transformation of African economies focusing on agriculture and energy and building partnerships in Europe for AWF.
AWF Blogs bring you to the critical landscapes we work in, where conservation benefits both wildlife and people alike. The blogs are written by our staff - men and women who have dedicated their lives to Africa's wildlife, people and wild lands.
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