Food Security and Poverty Eradication in Africa: Interplay by Olawale Rotimi
A hungry nation is an angry nation; the issue of food security has been a major challenge in Africa; a policy brief by Jason Bremner reveals that “nearly 240 million people in sub-Saharan Africa, or one person in every four, lack adequate food for a healthy and active life, and record food prices and drought are pushing more people into poverty and hunger. At the same time, the world’s population has now surpassed 7 billion, in this case Africa’s population has risen, 50 million will be added to sub-Saharan Africa population in the next 17 years, and by 2050, projection shows that Africa’s population double i.e. 2billion. The question that comes with this projection is, how does Africa plan to feed its escalating population?
Food insecurity is not alien to Africa, over the decades, millions of African children and women have died of hunger, the struggle to feed has given birth to increasing number of domestic robbery, reduction in economic productivity among others. A well fed nation is a healthy nation, and a healthy nation is a wealthy nation. The issue of food security cannot be disconnected from economic backgrounds, in agreement with Jason’s report, food security exists when all people at all times have both physical and economic access to sufficient food to meet their dietary needs for a productive and healthy life. Thus, achieving food security implies that sufficient quantities of appropriate foods are consistently available, individuals have adequate incomes or other resources to purchase or barter for food, food is properly processed and stored, individuals have sound knowledge of nutrition and child care that they put to good use, and have access to adequate health and sanitation services.
Assessing the above mentioned yardsticks that determine food security, statistics justify that Africa is lagging behind. First, economic access to nutritious food in Africa remains a goal yet to be attained. In spite of the fact that Africa is a farming continent, the prices of food items do not mirror the agricultural strength of the continent. The fact that Africa is an agrarian continent is enough reason to make enough food available for the populace, but interestingly Africa still imports some crops it produces because its production does not meet the demand of its people. Furthermore, nutritional knowledge is low in Africa, particularly in rural areas. Food security is at the top of the list of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) with the goal of eradicating poverty and hunger, even though efforts are been made to attain food security in the continent, achieving food security remains a herculean task in the continent.
Drought and other extreme weather events, pests, livestock diseases and other agricultural problems, climate change, military conflicts, lack of emergency plans, corruption and political instability, cash crops dependence, and rapid population growth have been highlighted as causes of food insecurity. In the case of Africa, corruption and political instability, cash crop dependence and rapid population growth are more prevalent factors aiding food insecurity in Africa. Agriculture is the only wealth a nation/continent can call its own. Africa needs to address the issues of corruption and instability in agricultural loans for small and large scale farming in order to cater for its growing population. Food security cannot be disconnected from poverty eradication, if Africa is unable to attain the former, the latter will equally remain unattainable. More investments have to be made in the agricultural sector to increase production and make food items more available to the populace. A hungry continent is an angry continent, food security will not only eradicate poverty but will reduce crime, reduce mortality rate and increase economic productivity.
Olawale Rotimi is the editor of The AGES Socio-Political Magazine and the Special Assistant on Media to Barrister Razak Atunwa, Member of House of Representatives.