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Review article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Innovative agronomic practices for sustainable intensification in sub-Saharan Africa. A review

Kuyah, Shem; Weldesemayat Sileshi, Gudeta; Nkurunziza, Libere; Chirinda, Ngonidzashe; Ndayisaba, Pierre Celestin; Dimobe, Kangbeni; Oborn, Ingrid


Africa's need to double food production and feed the burgeoning human population, without compromising its natural resource base, has raised the momentum for sustainable agricultural intensification on the continent. Many studies describe agronomic practices that can increase productivity on existing agricultural land without damaging the environment and without increasing the agricultural carbon footprint. However, there is limited information on specific practices with the greatest potential to contribute to sustainable intensification on smallholder farms in sub-Saharan Africa, while simultaneously keeping the carbon footprint low. The objectives of this review were to (1) identify good agronomic practices with potential for contributing to sustainable intensification across sub-Saharan Africa, (2) synthesize available information on benefits and synergies from these technologies, and (3) discuss bottlenecks in their adoption in order to obtain insights that inform the formulation of supportive policies. Agroforestry, cereal-legume intercropping, conservation agriculture, doubled-up legume cropping, fertilizer micro-dosing, planting basins, and push-pull technology were identified as key agronomic innovations widely promoted in sub-Saharan Africa. We show that these innovations can build synergies and increase resource use efficiency while reducing agricultural carbon footprint. We outline the benefits, trade-offs, and limitations of these practices and discuss their potential role in strengthening food sovereignty and climate change adaptation and mitigation.


Agroforestry; Intercropping; Micro-dosing; Push-pull technology; Synergy; Trade-off

Published in

Agronomy for Sustainable Development
2021, volume: 41, number: 2, article number: 16

Authors' information

Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Crop Production Ecology
Weldesemayat Sileshi, Gudeta
No organisation
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Crop Production Ecology
Chirinda, Ngonidzashe
International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)
Ndayisaba, Pierre Celestin
Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology
Dimobe, Kangbéni
University of Dédougou
World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Crop Production Ecology

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG13 Climate action
SDG2 Zero hunger

UKÄ Subject classification

Agricultural Science

Publication Identifiers


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