In tandem with the accelerating effects of climate change, efforts to increase agricultural productivity to feed the growing population are still being extensively rolled out in Africa. That notwithstanding, a large population in the continent remains food and nutrition insecure; rendering malnutrition the biggest public health challenge. Coupled with the increased incidences of abiotic stresses, developing countries are particularly in dire need to seek options that will sustain both yield and nutritional value of their food crops. Presently, nutritional quality deserves more attention than yield alone, hence factors perturbing it are of an immense importance. While the effects of abiotic stresses on agricultural productivity are unequivocal, their influence on nutritional quality of food crops is still hazy. In the simplest presentation of the synergy between humans, plants and the environment; man gets nutrients from plants, which source nutrients from the soil (environment). We hypothesized that abiotic factors are a double-edged sword with unclear plausible consequences on nutritional status of food crops and consequently humans. In a multifaceted approach, this review concisely presents an overview of malnutrition in Africa, intimate synergy between agriculture and nutrition, and unravels the effects of abiotic stresses on the nutrition status of harvested crops. While the effects are dynamic under many factors, the present work uncovers that abiotic stresses predominantly increase antioxidants, proteins and carbohydrates due to their contributory role in abiotic stress tolerance. It further acknowledges the promising interventions that have been implemented in this light, but in order to impact significantly on human nutrition, we call for a more collaborative approach cognizant of the complexity of this phenomenon.
Key words: Abiotic stresses, nutrition, agriculture, antioxidants, climate change, breeding.
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