Why Is Starvation Nonetheless a Problem in Africa?

Tea plantation Gisovu province, Rwanda © Radka Stankova / Shutterstock

With border closures, provide chain interruptions and lack of earnings attributable to lockdowns brought on by COVID-19, the variety of folks dealing with acute starvation world wide is estimated to rise from 135 million to 265 million this yr. That is notably the case in sub-Saharan Africa, the place earlier than the pandemic 20% of all residents have been already thought-about undernourished, and 277 million folks out of the continent’s 1.28 billion inhabitants confronted extreme meals insecurity.

Though sadly not a brand new phenomenon for Africa, this unprecedented degree of starvation is pointless and presents a possibility to reassess the established order of meals manufacturing on the African continent. The UN Meals and Agriculture Group estimates that $1 trillion of meals is misplaced or wasted yearly —  roughly one-third of the world’s meals, or sufficient to feed 2 billion folks. America alone wastes roughly 30% to 40% of its annual meals provide.

Twofold Method

Why then is starvation such a problem in Africa? House to over 60% of the world’s uncultivated arable land, the African continent has the potential to produce sufficient meals to feed itself and maybe the remainder of the world. Nevertheless, many African international locations at the moment import nearly all of their staple meals price $35 billion a yr even when they’ve means to supply it. Nigeria, for instance, imports over a 3rd of the rice it consumes, whereas South Sudan has few sources of native meals manufacturing and is fully reliant on meals assist.

The current starvation scenario in Africa requires a twofold strategy: a big humanitarian response to handle instant wants of these dealing with hunger this yr, together with medium and long-term measures to enhance meals entry and manufacturing for African residents. Fortuitously, a number of options exist that authorities, worldwide assist and personal sector companions can construct upon and scale to alleviate Africa’s current and future meals shortages.

First is rising farming productiveness. Research recommend utilizing new farming practices to extend small-scale farmers’ crop yields may triple the manufacturing of staple items reminiscent of maize in sub-Saharan Africa. Sustainable farming practices particularly profit the surroundings and permit farmers to generate extra earnings on their harvests every season. The One Acre Fund, Acumen Fund and Alliance for a Inexperienced Revolution in Africa are nice examples of organizations at the moment equipping small-scale farmers with instruments reminiscent of coaching, financing and entry to new seeds and gear to enhance their crop yields.

Then comes addressing structural obstacles. This consists of addressing land points and crossborder commerce tariffs that hinder regional meals manufacturing and distribution. Land possession is commonly a problem for small-scale farmers, particularly in rural areas the place there are few authorized mechanisms to find out who can personal or lease land. African farmers lose roughly 40% of every harvest attributable to crop decay, and so initiatives reminiscent of creating central storage and drying amenities have allowed farmers to retailer contemporary meals and get it to market with fewer losses. Regional commerce obstacles and lack of roads additionally restrict how a lot meals will be distributed throughout the continent, and implementing insurance policies just like the African Continental Free Commerce Space settlement would promote regional market integration and supply farmers extra alternatives to promote their items.

Tech and Added Worth

There’s additionally a necessity to include new applied sciences. There are actually extra digital monetary providers and fintech merchandise obtainable to African farmers than ever earlier than. These vary from blockchain applied sciences and cryptocurrencies that assist small-scale farmers achieve entry to credit score so as to purchase seeds to new apps and data-centered farming assets.

Cell functions reminiscent of iCow, FeoFarmer, Hi there Tractor and Precision Agriculture for Improvement present details about livestock, farming strategies and gear leases to help farmers of their decision-making, whereas initiatives like Digital Inexperienced present video coaching assets for farming communities in Ethiopia. There’s additionally nice potential to develop apps to raised coordinate meals manufacturing, storage and supply logistics in addition to use of drones in facilitating this course of. 

Lastly, there must be a concentrate on worth addition. African international locations largely export uncooked supplies however import completed merchandise, thereby shedding the flexibility to generate larger income for his or her current pure assets. Agriculture is not any totally different. For instance, Africa produces 75% of the world’s cocoa provide however receives solely 2% of the $100 billion a yr produced by chocolate gross sales worldwide. This implies international locations expertise larger losses if the value of uncooked items fluctuates, which in flip negatively impacts small-scale farmers. Along with rising revenues, worth addition — or rising ’s worth by means of added processing — is confirmed to assist create jobs.

As Africa faces a way forward for elevated inhabitants and local weather change, the present challenges of meals waste, manufacturing and starvation will solely change into extra outstanding. Though the options recognized right here is not going to lead to instant adjustments, they will present a essential basis for restructuring agricultural manufacturing and meals distribution in Africa. COVID-19 doesn’t but have a recognized remedy, however starvation does, and its present magnitude ought to function a wake-up name for each Africa and the worldwide group to behave right now and tackle a burgeoning but solvable disaster.

*[Young Professionals in Foreign Policy is a partner institution of Fair Observer.]

The views expressed on this article are the creator’s personal and don’t essentially replicate Truthful Observer’s editorial coverage.

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