Food Summit: Africa Must Avoid Blame Game
Published on 3rd June 2008
World leaders meet at the U.N. Food summit in Rome to discuss among other things how to tackle the food crisis that is causing riots across the globe. At least other nationalities can blame it on the use of grains to produce fuel- but what will Africa blame it on?
What strong reasons does Africa have when 200 million of its people have been chronically undernourished all along? What when its great diversity of crops lie underutilized? What with its $150 billion a year wasted in not adding value to its staple crops? What with its domestic supply response to raise food production neglected through underestimating the capabilities of smallholder farmers? What with its neat ‘Revitalising Agriculture’ blueprints gathering dust on the shelves- waiting for donor funding?
As Africa points its index finger at developed nations, three other fingers are crying out loud: “look inward. You are three times to blame!” Africa has an inefficient and ill equipped army against famine on its frontline. Our smallholder farmers can feed us if we change our attitude towards farming; change our cultural and legal land policies; address policies that impose high tariffs on intra Africa agricultural goods; target Africa as a market of a billion people and stop politics from overriding food issues.
The food crisis, new food demand by China, developed countries’ switch to biofuel crops should be enough reason for us to position our farmers to supply the global market. For Africa, the solutions are not in Rome, but in Africa itself!