Tackling food shortage in Africa

Posted on April 6, 2014 10:45 pm

In Johannesburg South Africa, modern, gleaming skyscrapers is a resemblance of other Africa’s mega-cities that one could easily forget that this economic transformation masks an unmistakable reality. While African countries continue to record a higher economic growth rate better than other region in the world, it remains home to nearly a third of the world’s absolute number of hungry population. More and more people are going to bed hungry each night in Africa. There are various challenges that African countries need to address to reach their goal of zero hunger. They need to waste less and produce more, sustainably. And they need to support small-scale farming. Farmers already supply most of the food African population eat but are among the most vulnerable themselves due to exploitation from food vendors who reside in urban areas. A 2008 research showed that most have limited room to upscale or intensify outputs.  The continent is experiencing the depletion of fish stocks just like disappearance of forest cover. Technocrats need to put their heads together to find solutions and tackle food challenges the continent faces and indeed countries are facing them collectively. In countries like Tanzania and Zambia, there are positive signs of progress and recognition but in countries like Malawi there has been negative progress.

For example, in Kenya and Uganda people know they can prevent food loss and food wastage which is as high as 40 percent in the two countries compared to 14 per cent in West African countries as of end 2012. African countries must work together to help those who work to supply them with the food they need. There is an urgent need for public and private sector cooperation in order to facilitate investment in greater productivity and value chain efficiencies required to maintain their market share and food security. While the private sector can provide the bulk of agricultural investment as has been the case in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Ghana, these investments need to be responsible and contribute to food security, and governments must create an enabling environment for that to occur, while implementing and enhancing social protection programmes for vulnerable rural people like in northern Uganda and Kenya where drought is reported every two years on average. Improvements to farmers’ and fishers’ livelihoods is the most immediate challenge that need to be tackled, within ecologically sustainable frameworks, to the restoration of forests and grasslands, intensification of food production and progress on a regional rice initiative, with campaigns to cut down on post-harvest food losses and wastage. Together, African countries can work toward a region free from hunger, and one that reinforces the critical importance of all of those involved in producing the food.

Contador Harrison