Equatorial Guinea: A Green Revolution could reduce the country’s reliance on food imports will require a steep increase in agricultural production, particularly at a time of high fertility rates. Crop yields in Equatorial Guinea currently average less than one tonne per hectare, compared to seven tonnes in Western Europe and North America.
The growing population poses a challenge to any development in the sector because either it is divided up into smaller plots, or more people are forced from the land. It also increases existing difficulties over land tenure.
Existing and innovative technologies need to be implemented to enable such a jump in output, including greater mechanisation and irrigation, financial support, more fertilisers, and higher yielding and more pest-resistant seed varieties.
With many African governments now much more interested in promoting agriculture, the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (Agra) is leading the way in seeking to cultivate an African green revolution.
At present, many farmers merely save part of their annual harvest to re-use as seed, rather than buying higher yielding strains. Too much Equatoguinean land is degraded and acidic but fertilisers can help to increase yields on existing arable land and also bring more land into production.
Namanga Ngongi, the former president of Agra, believes that there are two main elements to the Green Revolution. He says: “If you’re able to have good seed and appropriate fertiliser, and on time, I think really the production side of agriculture would probably be resolved.”
Most farmers in the country continue to plant seed by hand, remove weeds by hoe and harvest crops by hand. Even simple tools such as ploughs can improve efficiency and cooperative use of expensive machinery is often the best option.
Malabo could even follow the example of Malawi by introducing fertiliser subsidies and the purchase of seed strains. This transformed Malawi from being reliant on food imports into a net food exporter.
A green revolution does not have to mean the end of smallholding. Small-scale producers, who comprise 90% of all farming in the country, can come together to form cooperatives to jointly purchase new seed varieties and equipment, while also marketing their produce as a group. Established cocoa marketing bodies in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire could provide a model for cooperative smallholder marketing in Equatorial Guinea.