It is a harsh paradox that sub-Saharan Africa, a continent blessed with ample agricultural endowments, still faces hunger and malnutrition. Adding to that paradox is the fact that the region’s high rates of economic growth in recent years – some of the fastest in the world – and improvements in life expectancy and schooling have not led to commensurate improvements in food security. More than one in four Africans – nearly 218 million remain undernourished and more than 40% of children under five i.e almost 55 million in total are malnourished.
Chronic food insecurity in sub-Saharan Africa stems from decades of under-investment in the countryside, where infrastructure has deteriorated, farming has languished, gender and other inequalities have deepened and food systems have stagnated.
Smallholder farmers, on whose shoulders the recovery of its agriculture rests, have long been pinned between a rock and hard place.
Erratic weather patterns and seasonal food price variations, coupled with new threats from population growth, environmental pressures, and climate change, have only made matters worse.
But history is not destiny. Africans are not fated to starve. Provided governments, armed with political will and dedication, move decisively to make food accessible and affordable for all, the continent can unleash a virtuous circle of higher human development and enhanced food security.
Action focused on agriculture alone will not end food insecurity. While Africa will need to produce substantially more food, coordinated interventions across other major sectors are required.
Before we go further, what do we understand by Food security?
The 1996 World Food Summit in Rome defined food security as a state when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. People's food and nutrition security needs vary over their life cycles, as do the implications for their physical and mental health and well-being Food security means far more than having sufficient food on a national basis to meet human needs - whether from domestic production (food self-sufficiency) and/or commercial/aid imports (food self-reliance). Food security today is less a problem of general food availability than access. People must have access to food. But in our little way, how can we contribute to food security?
- Make room for imperfect fruits and vegetables: About 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted worldwide every year and, of this, fruit and vegetables have the highest wastage rates of any food type. “Ugly” or “wonky” veg was blamed for up to 40% of wasted fruit and vegetables in 2013, as produce was discarded for failing to meet retailer appearance standards. People usually make fruit selection based on physical appearance and when this is done, they discard the imperfect ones which are equally as nutritious as the perfect ones. what we need to understand is When that “ugly” fruit or vegetable is wasted, all the resources such as water, manure, and labor, which was used to make it, are equally wasted. If we are to ensure global food security, accepting imperfect fruit and veg is an important step to take. It will also be good to re-educate consumers to think about their food consumption and waste, such as how they plan their weekly grocery shopping, what they throw out and the quest for perfectly shaped carrots, as this will have a positive impact on the amount of produce we discard.
Read also: Can ugly fruits and vegetable help solve world hunger
- We should all be farmers: The world’s growing cities host more people, but less nature. With the rapid growth in the human population and the pressure it places on smallholder farmers in rural areas, urban agriculture should be Encouraged. We should all be farmers. Urban agriculture has the potential to change the entire agricultural landscape, increase access to healthy food options in urban areas, and mitigate the environmental impact of feeding the world. Urban agriculture makes it possible to produce fresh, nutritious food with low carbon and water footprints, while conserving land, reducing emissions and waste and providing healthy, affordable, accessible food to a city’s poorest residents. Urban agriculture can be as simple as small, outdoor community, rooftop and backyard gardens, or as complex as indoor vertical farms with nutrient-enriched water and UV lighting to mimic the effects of the sun.
Read also: We should all be farmers
- Share knowledge with farmers: Many farmers in rural areas do not have the most up-to-date information on how to grow food efficiently and economically. Improving their knowledge of new techniques and technologies, In addition to providing them with any physical resources necessary for implementation, can dramatically increase the farmers’ level of productivity. Another instance is training the farmers on more effective ways of managing pests and diseases on their farms which will in-turn lead to less food loss, thus increasing income potential and enhancing food security.
- Gender Equality in Agriculture: Generally, the extent of gender involvement in agricultural production varies across ethnic groups in Nigeria. According to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development, women account for 75 percent of the farming population in Nigeria, working as farm managers, and suppliers of labor, their possibilities in agriculture are hindered by formal and traditional rules. Women are also usually limited to only post-harvest operations such as drying and gathering. Other limitations such as bank refusal to lend to female farmers, less opportunity to develop skills, getting empowered all stand in the way of developing their potential.
Read also: Celebrating women in agriculture
Do you know other ways we can work towards achieving food security? Let us know in the comments section below.
How can Africa achieve food security[
Food security in the world [tegegnework-gettu.html Accessed on 18th, March 2020]