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Malaria Is Linked With Agriculture in Africa

The African population is expected to triple by 2100. This means that more food, water and agricultural commodities are required. To meet these needs, African governments and development agencies have set up large agricultural projects.

For example, the Coalition for African Rice Development, a policy framework, set a goal to double rice production from 28 million tonnes in 2018 to 56 million tonnes by 2030. Governments are also increasing international trade in agricultural products.

Agricultural development involves both expansion into new farm land and more intensive farming, using irrigation or fertilisers to improve crop yields. Such development can improve household wealth, healthcare, education and national gross domestic product.

Unfortunately, when done the wrong way, it can also harm the environment. Farming can contribute to deforestationcarbon emissionswater and air pollution and biodiversity loss.

In turn, these effects may harm human health. Some infectious diseases – malariaschistosomiasis and Buruli ulcer – have been linked to agriculture.

Agriculture and malaria have always been intertwined. The agricultural revolution brought people to live close together – and close to water. But researchers have failed to fully understand, quantify or predict the links between agriculture and malaria.

To add to what’s known about this, we examined whether childhood malaria in sub-Saharan Africa varies across different kinds of agricultural landscapes. We asked whether different forms of agriculture raise or reduce the risk of childhood malaria. The land uses we considered were irrigated and rainfed cropland and systems that mix natural cover and crops.

We found patterns which suggest how agricultural land could be managed better to reduce health risks. This matters because the African continent still suffers more than 90% of the world’s malaria-induced deaths. And the region’s progress towards ending malaria has stalled in recent years.

Source: https://allafrica.com/stories/202204100086.html

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