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"Conclusions and the Way Ahead"

"Conclusions and the Way Ahead"

Book Chapter, The New Harvest: Agricultural Innovation in Africa, pages 204-217

January 2011

Author: Calestous Juma, Professor of the Practice of International Development; Director, Science, Technology, and Globalization Project; Principal Investigator, Agricultural Innovation in Africa

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: Agricultural Innovation in Africa; Science, Technology, and Globalization; Science, Technology, and Public Policy


Other Chapters in The New Harvest: Agricultural Innovation in Africa:

A new economic vision for Africa's agricultural transformation— articulated at the highest level of government through Africa's Regional Economic Communities (RECs)—should be guided by new conceptual frameworks that define the continent as a learning society. This shift will entail placing policy emphasis on emerging opportunities such as renewing infrastructure, building human capabilities, stimulating agribusiness development, and increasing participation in the global economy. It also requires an appreciation of emerging challenges such as climate change and how they might influence current and future economic strategies.

Climate Change, Agriculture, and Economy

As Africa prepares to address its agricultural challenges, it is now confronted with new threats arising from climate change. Agricultural innovation will now have to be done in the context of a more uncertain world in which activities such as plant and animal breeding will need to be anticipatory. 1 According to the World Bank, warming "of 2°C could result in a 4 to 5 percent permanent reduction in annual income per capita in Africa and South Asia, as opposed to minimal losses in high-income countries and a global average GDP loss of about 1 percent. These losses would be driven by impacts in agriculture, a sector important to the economies of both Africa and South Asia." 2 Sub-Saharan Africa is dominated by fragile ecosystems. Nearly 75% of its surface area is dry land or desert. This makes the continent highly vulnerable to droughts and floods. Traditional cultures cope with such fragility through migration. But such migration has now become a source of insecurity in parts of Africa. Long-term responses will require changes in agricultural production systems. 3

The continent's economies are also highly dependent on natural resources. Nearly 80% of Africa's energy comes from biomass and over 30% of its GDP comes from rain-fed agriculture, which supports 70% of the population. Stress is already being felt in critical resources such as water supply....

The entire chapter may be downloaded below.


1. P. K. Thornton et al., "Special Variation of Crop Yield Response to Climate Change in East Africa," Global Environmental Change 19, no. 1 (2009): 54–65.

2. World Bank, World Development Report 2010: Development and Climate Change. Washington, DC: World Bank, 2010, 5.

3. E. Bryan et al., "Adaptation to Climate Change in Ethiopia and South Africa: Options and Constraints," Environmental Science and Policy 12, no. 4 (2009): 413–26.


For more information about this publication please contact the STG Coordinator.

For Academic Citation:

Juma, Calestous. "Conclusions and the Way Ahead." Chap. 8 in The New Harvest: Agricultural Innovation in Africa. New York: Oxford University Press, January 2011.

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