Per capita food production in sub-Saharan Africa is at last rising. According to the World Bank's World Development Report 2008, agricultural growth there “has accelerated from 2.3 percent per year in the 1980s to 3.3 percent in the 1990s and to 3.8 percent per year between 2000 and 2005.” That growth has cut poverty rates in 10 of 13 countries analyzed. In addition to lack of drought, these results arose from an African “green revolution” that experts and United Nations officials called for in 2004. It entails relatively simple strategies, such as government subsidies for fertilizers and better crop varieties, so that farmers pay only 25 percent of the actual costs. Moreover, food production has been increasing more than population growth. Problems still persist, though, such as a lack of access to agricultural markets in the developed world. And global pressure to produce biofuels rather than food may mean that hunger will not be erased anytime soon.
This article was originally published with the title "Signs of a Green Revolution" in Scientific American 298, 1, 32 (January 2008)