Stories tagged: food security

From Potential to Reality: Innovative solutions to the global hunger crisis

Joachim von Braun, Professor for Economic and Technological Change at the Center for Development Research (ZEF) of the University of Bonn, outlines how Africa can overcome the global hunger crisis.

Food systems around the world are facing a multi-dimensional crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically disrupted the food supply chain due to bottlenecks in farm labour, processing and transportation. Additionally, the war in Ukraine adds uncertainty to grain supply as Russia and Ukraine account for 20 per cent and 30 per cent of global maize and wheat exports, respectively. Hunger is on the rise in Africa, with issues such as acute climate stress and inflation impacting people’s ability to buy goods.

Urgent and coordinated international action is needed to achieve food security while safeguarding the environment. Policymakers must work to build sustainable and resilient food systems, while also managing the ongoing food crisis. In addition, the development sector needs to invest in scaleable, global innovative solutions driven by scientific expertise to achieve progress and reduce hunger.

From the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit to the G20 and COP27 – with its first-ever Food Systems Pavilion – food systems have remained high on the international agenda and global leaders must continue this momentum. To do so, a number of short- and long-term courses of action for policy and partnerships must be addressed, with innovation at the centre.


Long term strategic priorities for governments 

In the long term, regional and international cooperation can help turn Africa’s agricultural and food systems’ potential into a reality. For example, to secure a regular food supply for affordable and healthy diets while also ensuring sustainable use of resources, policymakers must prioritise investment and policy actions that benefit African society as a whole. 

By investing in and supporting small businesses and making productive use of the African Continental Free Trade Area, entrepreneurship in the region can be fostered. Small-scale businesses need to be supported with improved agricultural finance infrastructures so that they can access investment and microfinance opportunities.

Additionally, investing in skills development programmes should also remain a priority for policymakers in Africa, as supporting young women and men with vocational training and extension services can improve skills for all professions along the value chain. While developing skills is an important aspect of improving economic outcomes and building resilience, much of rural Africa remains disconnected from these opportunities. However, this can be resolved through better rural infrastructure and digital connectivity. 

Moreover, investing in innovations, agricultural research, solar energy supported small-scale irrigation, rural energy, digitalisation and mechanisation of production can help communities recover from global shocks.

Short term actions to improve food security

In the short term, policymakers must focus on a number of main sectors for growth, such as trade, social protection, employment and health. Trade, in particular, is essential to growing economic opportunities in Africa. In particular, supporting international efforts to unblock the grain supply – and compensating those that are indirectly impacted by the blockages – is important to reviving the food supply. Expanding trade finance and advancing intra-African trade by conducting transactions in local currencies can also help manage the food crisis. In addition, improved technology and scientific innovations like data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) policymakers and civil society organisations can also prevent food crises from turning into famines.

Strong social protection systems must also be developed to help vulnerable people cope with the global hunger crisis and external shocks. Better employment opportunities, investments in the health and education of children, and cash transfer programmes are all ways families can be empowered to lift themselves out of poverty. Nutrition programmes that are expanded to school meals, health systems and food fortification can address the growing diet deficiencies among rural and urban populations in Africa.

Looking ahead: Learning from Africa’s successes in food and agriculture

Above all, global cooperation is important in solving some of these challenges, but Africa has made great strides in advancing towards the goals set under both the Malabo Declaration and the Sustainable Development Goals. Yet, the progress is fragile and ensuring food security and improved nutrition is still a challenge. There is more to be done to ensure that Africa is on track to achieve Zero Hunger (SDG 2) by 2030.

The Malabo Montpellier Report “Recipes for success” (2021) can serve as a guideline for African policymakers, development partners and the private sector to achieve sustained progress toward resilient food systems. According to the report, food systems transformation in Africa can be achieved by adopting an approach that can close the gaps that are impeding progress toward sustainable growth. Beginning with countries’ development agendas, food systems transformation through innovative solutions must be an integral part of their national vision. 

Placing African innovation at the centre of food systems transformation is key to achieving resilience across the continent and around the world. By implementing smart regulations, nurturing scientific growth and supporting youth with the resources they need, African and international policymakers can optimise conditions to catalyse action across food systems.

 

Photo: UN COP27 Climate Talks, November 2022 (UNFCCC)

Borlaug Dialogues Round-up: A better way to feed the world

After a day orienting food security experts from around the world on the interconnected challenges of climate change, COVID-19, global conflict and more, the second day of the Borlaug Dialogue began to delve deeper into the agricultural development landscape with a keynote speech from Samantha Power, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Continue reading

Levelling the Playing Field: Seed access for farmers

Anastasia Mbatia, Senior Technical Manager for Agriculture, Farm Africa and author of Quality Declared Seed, unpacks how seed systems can be used to provide farmers with quality inputs, ultimately improving food security and livelihoods. 

Crop productivity in eastern Africa remains far lower than what it could be. Climate change and lack of investment have significant impacts, but seed systems are also majorly preventing farmers from growing to their full potential.  Continue reading

Nourishing Crops for Resilient Food Systems in sub-Saharan Africa

Image of Dr Shamie Zingore

Dr Shamie Zingore, Director of Research and Development at the African Plant Nutrition Institute, delves into the relationship between soil health, crop productivity and human nutrition.

Africa is home to an estimated 33 million smallholder farmers who contribute about 70 per cent of the continent’s food supply. But these farmers face various constraints, such as low productivity and limited access to new agricultural technologies. The soils in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) in particular are some of the poorest in the world due to naturally low fertility and insufficient soil conservation measures. It is estimated that the continent loses over US $4 billion worth of soil nutrients each year, severely eroding its ability to feed itself. Crops require an adequate and balanced supply of nutrients to produce good yields, yet currently, more than 60 per cent of SSA’s agricultural land faces challenges around crop production. Continue reading

Closing the Adaptation Gap: Harnessing the power of possibilities

Leanne Zeppenfeldt, Knowledge & Partnerships Officer and Bruce Campbell, Chief Innovation Strategist at Clim-Eat discuss how Earth Overshoot Day highlights the need to not only mitigate climate change but adapt to its effects.

By July 28th – Earth Overshoot Day – humans will have used more ecological resources and services this year than what our planet can regenerate.

The rate at which we are emitting greenhouse gases and using our clean water, healthy soil, oil reserves, and carbon-storing forests exceeds the Earth’s capacity. Despite the important role it plays to our lives and livelihoods, agriculture is also one of the largest drivers of planetary overshoot, and mitigation action to reduce our natural resource use and emissions is essential to #MoveTheDate of Earth Overshoot Day in the coming years.  Continue reading

Food Security High on G7 Agenda as Impacts from Climate, COVID-19 and Conflict Grow

G7 Leaders meet in Germany, 26-28 June.

Leaders gathered at the G7 Summit from 26 to 28 June in Germany, where food security was high on the agenda. The G7 Leaders said they “will spare no effort to increase global food and nutrition security and to protect the most vulnerable, whom the food crisis threatens to hit the hardest.”  Continue reading