This week Nature discusses about increasing food production in Sub-Saharan Africa by using fertilizer (supported by subsidies) or by implementing more sustainable ways such as conservation agriculture, “fertilizer trees” and legumes. The Editorial concludes that “For now, that has to mean improved access to fertilizers, because the choice between food and famine is an easy one”. Maybe the opportunities are in combining both approaches, depending on the farm/local conditions and socio-economic and biophysical context.

The editorial and article are available from Nature website


The first peer-reviewed publication of the Systemwide Livestock Programme (SLP) crop residue project is now on-line in Field Crops Research. This paper describes the options and challenges of Conservation Agriculture (CA) in mixed systems by comparing 12 study sites in 9 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Results illustrate that “despite its potential benefit for smallholder farmers across the density gradient, the introduction of CA-based mulching practices appears potentially easier in sites where biomass production is high enough to fulfil existing demands for feed and fuel. In sites with relatively high feed and fuel pressure, the eventual introduction of CA needs complementary research and development efforts to increase biomass production and/or develop alternative sources to alleviate the opportunity costs of leaving some crop residues as mulch”.

This is the result of collaborative research of different CGIAR centers and other institutions: SLP, ILRI, CIMMYT, ICRISAT, IITA, CIP and Wageningen University.

The article is available from Field Crops Research

New Agriculturist has just published an article (in French) on how a dual-purposed variety (food and feed) of groundnuts improved animal feed and dairy production in a district in India. It also describes the options and challenges of seed production and dissemination of crop varieties that have a limited value for the private sector. This article illustrates the the collaboration of different institutes including ICRISAT (International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics), ILRI (International Livestock Research Institute), Acharya N.G.Ranga Agricultural University and different NGOs.

The complete article is available from New Agriculturist