EDITORIAL: Time to permanently rid Africa of hunger shame

Monday March 18 2019

Yesterday, we published excerpts of a recent exclusive interview we had with the FAO Regional Representative for Africa, Mr Abebe Haile-Gabriel.

The interview was largely based on a joint study report by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

Titled The 2018 Africa Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition Report, the findings were officially released in Addis Ababa on February 12.

The study’s findings are most consternating, to say the least. For example, the study established that “hunger is accelerating in Africa, with 23 per cent (257 million people) of the continent’s population being undernourished…”

And that “sub-Saharan Africa is the most affected by hunger on the continent (237 million hungry people) – with eastern Africa carrying a third of the hunger burden vis-a-vis the rest of the continent where hunger has risen since 2015”.

By implication, it means that hunger in Africa had been on the decline until 2015. Indeed – as the report states – “underfeeding stood at 32 per cent of the (African) population as of 2017, compared to 34.4 per cent in 2005...”

By way of some consolation, we are told, “the incidence of underfeeding in Tanzania has declined over the last decade…”

However, it seems things are taking a turn for the worse, with more and more Africans going hungry for lack of enough nourishing food.

But why should this happen in a continent with some 600 million hectares of uncultivated arable land, lots of water (rivers, lakes, rains, underground water) and a big labour force?

We in Africa need to revisit our agri-production factors, including agriculture-related investments, budgetary allocations, best practice farming methods, tools and inputs to surmount the hydra-headed monster that is perennial hunger.