It's one of the least agriculturally developed regions of the world, but infrastructure and innovation could help it and the world to eat.
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Headlines of late have focused on the worst drought in decades in the United States, and the impact that is having on global food prices. With half of the American corn crop in poor condition, food prices are rising and pinching wallets around the world. In the short term, the sharp spike in the cost of corn (used mostly for animal feed) and other commodities could lead to unrest in poorer countries around the world that import large amounts of food.
The longer term concern is that severe droughts in countries that produce much of the world's food could be the new normal due to climate change. With a global population that crossed the 7 billion mark earlier this year and is expected to hit 8 billion by 2025, it is critical to develop greater agricultural capacity. Africa is one part of the world with enormous untapped potential. Although parts of the continent-like the Sahel-face grave food insecurity, also partly due to drought, increased irrigation stands to make African agriculture at least 50 percent more efficient. Today, just 6 percent of Africa's cultivated land is irrigated as opposed to 14 percent in Latin America and 37 percent in Asia. Expanding irrigation in Africa could make a huge difference for the continent's food insecure people, and also contribute to global food supplies.