"A man surrounded by water does not wash his eyes with spittle."
- African proverb
If we consider the proverb above and relate it with Africa’s food shortages in the face of her large agricultural outputs, arable farmland, manpower and a large number of cultivatable crops; it is safe to say that the proverb is more of mockery than a boastful challenge – which it was meant to be.
Africa is hungry! Hunger and food shortages are perhaps the country’s greatest problem because it is the underlying effect of poverty. There is a general saying that it is somewhat impossible to think or work when you have to worry about food. This means that solving the hunger problem in Africa will go a long way in solving many of the problems which attack the continent in the face.
According to the current Hunger Statistics released by the Food Aid Foundation, ‘Some 795 million people in the world do not have enough food to lead a healthy active life.’ That's about one in nine people on earth.
It is needless to state here that a majority of these people live on the African continent because recent reports have revealed that the world hungriest people live in eight countries of the world – five of which are on the African continent.
While it is understandable that there are some countries which are geographically disadvantaged and situated too close to the Sahara, leading to harsh climate and soil topography which does not aid crop production, there are other African countries that produce food crops in excess. It should be easy to create a balance through intra-trade and import/export of agricultural produce within the continent.
Why should an African country prefer to trade its agricultural produce to Europe, America, and China but neglect the demand from a neighboring African country which is ravaged by famine?
There is always the case of high foreign exchange earnings as a defense for these actions, but one would have thought that African countries will feel responsible for each other and put issues that affect the continent on top priority. But again, we cannot completely rule out or pretend not to know that there exists an underlying colonial effect in the matter.
The Report by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations reveals that ‘Even if just one-fourth of the food currently lost or wasted globally could be saved, it would be enough to feed 870 MILLION hungry people in the world.’
This clearly shows that despite the challenges faced by regions close to the Sahara or who experience extreme climate conditions not favorable to crop production, the world currently produces enough food to go round!
So, therefore, an increase in production or some new technological advancement in the field of crop production and agriculture is not the answer!
To solve our problem of hunger in the continent, African countries which are blessed with good conditions for agricultural production and crop cultivation must feel responsible for the others who are not.
We cannot afford to waste our crop produce whilst trying to satisfy the European and American market, while fellow Africans die of hunger daily.
According to FAO, roughly one-third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tonnes — gets lost or wasted. This occurs mostly during the food supply chain!
Africa must arise to kick out hunger out of our continent! It begins with you!
Header Image Credit: World Economic Forum