Thursday, October 28, 2021

Millions reel under food shortage – Prof Madibela

About 805 million people are not getting enough food as indicated in the in 2012ÔÇô 4 Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO 2014) document. 

Developing regions registered significant progress towards the Millennium Development Goal (MDG 1) hunger target, but marked differences across regions of the world persist. 

Sub-Saharan Africa remains with the highest prevalence of undernourishment.

This came to light during the 17th African Association for Biological Nitrogen Fixation (AABNF) conference when Professor Othusitse Ricky Madibela presented his paper titled: “How science and research can turn around the woes of food insecurity in sub-Saharan Africa”.

He said the African Union (AU) had set a target to “eliminate hunger and food insecurity by 2025”, and wondered if it was possible, saying the relevance emanates from the fact that food security is a complex condition as indicated in Food and Agricultural Organization document of 2013.

“Its dimensions, which are availability, access, utilisation and stability need a suite of solutions.  The challenge is great and requires range of actions by many different actors. To attain No-Hunger/High Security, food access should increase to the levels required by 2025 to reduce hunger to below five percent. Food production should increase to levels required to meet this demand and to reduce import dependence,” said Madibela, adding that average calorie consumption per capita per day would need to be about 18 percent higher than in 2015 to eliminate hunger.

Madibela further explained that this increase in calorie consumption require food demand increase of 473 million metric tons by 2025. To meet this demand, while decreasing net imports, agricultural production will need to increase by 525 million metric tons. This change in production, he said, would be 61 percent above 2015 levels ÔÇô that is; without effects of climate change.

“This level is not impossible, but will require expansion of cropland and extraordinary crop yields similar to the Green Revolution in Asia in the 1960s and 1970s,” he said.

He advised all to consider positive impacts on the environment and climate as it enhances farm-level productivity and reduce increased utilisation of production resources or expansion into fragile ecosystem.

He said that science is a vehicle for development to drive innovation, invention, manufacturing and policies for agriculture; and this is where it comes in to improve efficiency

 “Analysis would identify priorities for efficient primary production, post-harvest and nutrition research. This analysis would be accompanied by insecurity mind mapping during focus group discussions. Because of complexity of food insecurity that entails availability, access, utilisation and stability, it will impact on a number of factors namely:

primary production, post-harvest loss during production and transformation and value addition.

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