By some measures, the Millennium Development Goal to halve the number of very hungry people may be achieved solely because those affected are already dying at such a high rate – 6 million of these each year are children. This bleak statement by Professor Marcel Mazoyer opened his presentation in the second panel on the policy problems in Africa.

He argued that food security problems are not caused by the growth of the world population, nor the degradation of natural resources or a lack of capacity in food production, but by the fact that the richest in the world take an excessive share, leaving the poor unable to purchase what they need to live.

While there is now greater awareness that ‘access to food’ is a fundamental human right, this is an empty promise unless countries are committed to food security. Agricultural development and related policies are the key to this. In an unregulated market, he stated, we cannot ensure food security in the poorest countries. Thus governments should be allowed to control import and export prices and achieve ‘food sovereignty.’

He finished by stressing that the real reason for malnutrition is not over-population but weak policies and international agreements. Policies are needed that ensure access to land, credit, research and development.

Professor Mazoyer elaborates some of these views (in French):

Mamadou Cissokho of ROPPA asks why, since developed nations built their own agricultural sectors on protected markets, should other nations not also do this? (in French):

See more from the 4 July briefing

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