Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Africa Needs A Revolution

 256 million reportedly suffering from severe food insecurity on the African continent. the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) indicate that Africa is a net food-importing region of commodities such as cereals, meat, dairy products, fats, oils, and sugar, importing about $80 billion worth of agricultural and food products annually.

The agricultural revolution on the continent needs to start from the bottom up, from the inside out, starting with small-scale farmers.

“The Green Revolution is an imported, top-down approach reliant on imported fertilizers and other inputs,” Dr Timothy Wise, a Senior Research Fellow at the Global Development and Environment Institute of the US-based Tufts University, told IPS.

Wise adds that the bias in public policies toward the private sector works against small-scale farmers, even though they, too, are technically part of the private sector.

“Markets [in Africa] can benefit farmers, and farmers need fair markets, but they cannot be dominated by large corporations and middlemen,” he says.

There is an urgent necessity to increase productivity and to move up the value chain into processed foods. Africa cannot feed itself while getting only a quarter of its potential yields and without processing what it grows, the African Development Bank (AfDB) bank says.

Africa’s green revolution’s main purpose is to improve the livelihoods of millions of small-scale farmers across the continent.

The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA), an organization that brings together small-scale farmers from across Africa advocating for food sovereignty, explained, Africa is on the verge of losing its diverse crop varieties due to restrictive and draconian laws that prohibit the centuries-old free exchange of seeds between farmers, With the importation of seeds in the name of high-yielding and climate-smart varieties becoming common policy for most countries; activists point out that their performance is intricately and heavily dependent on the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. AFSA said the adoption of these solutions in most African countries has proved ineffective because they end up creating dependency among farmers, forcing them to lose their own farmer varieties, and forcing them only to plant monocultures, all of which contribute to food insecurity.

 Leonida Odongo, an activist from Kenya Haki Nawiri Africa, observed that thousands of hectares of land in Africa are owned or leased to plantations that grow what is not eaten on the continent.

“If Green Revolution is working for Africa, why are the rates of hunger soaring, and if climate-smart technologies are working, why does Africa continue to be ravaged by droughts?” she asked.

Africa’s small-scale farmers need is ecological, not based on the adoption of costly inputs. This is because subsidizing purchases of expensive inputs, which are two to three times more expensive, and which are derived from fossil fuels, as is the current case in most African countries, is bound to fail.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame agreed; he noted that Africa should not be struggling with food insecurity, given “our” natural endowments.

“By transforming food systems [in Africa], we can feed ourselves, and even feed others,” Kagame said.

Uncertainty Over Revolution to Build Africa’s Food Systems | Inter Press Service (ipsnews.net)

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