Tuesday, June 28, 2011

From deficit to surplus

Kofi Annan cites Africa as answer to global food crisis. The number of hungry people in the world is set to top one billion again this year as rising food prices push millions more into poverty, the former secretary general of the United Nations warned. One in three Africans is chronically hungry, according to the UN, despite $3 billion being spent on food aid for the continent every year. About 70% of Africans are involved in agriculture, but almost 250 million people–a quarter of the population–are undernourished. That number has risen 100 million in the past 20 years as food production has fallen 10%, compared to an increase of 145% for the rest of the world.

“Africa is the continent which has perhaps the greatest opportunities to help find solutions to global food insecurity,” he said. “Even within existing cultivated land, a doubling of cereal yields would turn Africa into a major food surplus region.”

In the 1960s the continent was actually a net exporter of food. Fifty years later Africa imports around a quarter of its food at a cost of $30 billion a year.

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