In this section, you may find new materials that have been published on the topic of “Food Security”since the date of the event. We continually select major new publications and articles that add up to the policy points discussed in the briefing.
The Beating Pulse of Food Security in Africa
Elizabeth Mpofu is a fighter. She is one of a select group of farmers who equate food security with the war against hunger and shun poor agricultural practices which destroy the environment and impoverish farmers, especially women. Mpofu grows maize, legumes and different beans on her environmentally-friendly 10-hectare farm in Masvingo Province, about 290 kms southeast of Zimbabwe’s capital Harare. Despite a region-wide drought in Southern Africa, she harvested 150 kg of dried beans this year. Although the number was still far less than what she harvests in a good season, dried peas and beans have armed farmers like Mpofu to battle food and nutritional insecurity at the household level. The dried beans and peas belong to a class of food legumes known as pulses, widely considered a revolutionary food because of their many benefits. Pulses are rich in protein, drought resistant, offer an alternative cash crop and provide a fuel source. They are a perfect food in Africa, challenged by high rates of malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies, particularly among children under five years old. The World Food Programme says the African region has the highest percentage of hungry population in the world, with one person in four undernourished, while over a third of children in Africa are stunted. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) defines pulses as legumes with dry, edible seeds that have low fat content such as chickpeas, kidney beans, butter beans, black eyed peas, lentils, pigeon beans and cow peas among others.
Aflatoxins: Poisoning Health and Trade in Sub-Saharan Africa
Aflatoxin contamination is a growing threat to trade, food and health security in sub-Saharan Africa, where smallholder farmers are challenged by food production and now climate change, researchers said. Aflatoxins are toxic and cancer causing poisons produced by certain green mould fungus that naturally occurs in the soil. The poisons have become a serious contaminant of staple foods in sub-Saharan Africa including maize, cassava, sorghum, yam, rice, groundnut and cashews. The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), an international not for profit organisation based in Nigeria has led pioneering research in reducing mycotoxin contamination in Africa through rolling out innovative approaches. According to IITA researchers, exposure to mycotoxins is an important constraint to improving the health and well-being of people in Africa where high levels of aflatoxin contamination have been confirmed. Many smallholder farmers fail to prevent contamination during production and storage of their crops because they lack cost-effective ways to determine the poisons. Sub-Saharan Africa is annually losing more than 450 million dollars in trade revenue of major staples, particularly maize, and groundnuts as a result of contamination from aflatoxins, researchers told IPS. The health bill as a result of people unknowingly eating contaminated food runs into millions of dollars in a region with over burdened health facilities. Africa is at risk of toxins which are linked to suppressed immunity, liver cancer in humans and stunting in children. UNICEF says 40 per cent of children in sub-Saharan Africa are stunted or have low height for their age which can be associated with impaired brain development.
Last season, Mollene Kachambwa lost a tonne of the 5 tonnes of maize the family harvested to weevils and fungi. This season, weevils and fungi have to find a new host. Kachambwa, who is from the Kachambwa village located 75 km north east of Zimbabwe’s capital Harare, has stored her maize harvest in an airtight galvanised metal silo. This is a shift from using traditional granaries or polythene sacks, which are not insect and fungi proof. Certain fungi produce a chemical toxin known as aflatoxins, which can infest maize grain both in the field and subsequently in storage. Tests in Zimbabwe have found significant levels of contamination in maize crops, and the toxin can also infect other crops, notably legumes such as groundnuts. Aflatoxin exposure – a growing food and health risk in Africa – has been linked to weakened immunity and cancer risk. Young children are at risk of stunting, and even babies are susceptible to aflatoxins carried in their mothers’ milk. Farmers like Kachambwa spend on average more than 50 dollars each season on pesticides to protect their grain from weevil damage, but they have little protection against contamination from fungi. Given the high farming input costs in Zimbabwe’s struggling economy, farmers worry about storage and safety of their harvest. The prospect of pesticide-free and hassle-free grain storage methods at affordable cost is irresistible. “I am confident my maize is safe in the metal bin. I have been taught to dry the maize properly before storing it. I put a burning candle to take out any air in the bin before I seal it,” Kachambwa says. “I have also learnt how to test for high moisture content in my grain before I store it in the bin.”
– Africa South of the Sahara Food Security Portal Launched
While Africa south of the Sahara has seen impressive growth in agricultural trade in recent years, one in four people remains undernourished, making it the region with the highest prevalence (percentage of population) of hunger. The Food Security Portal for Africa south of the Sahara (FSP-SSA), created by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) with support from the European Commission, is a continuation of the EC-funded project on “World Food Crisis: Support for Food Security Monitoring and Analysis for Appropriate Policy Responses,” a three-year project initiated in 2010 in response to the lessons that emerged from the 2007-2008 world food crisis. To address the shortage of easily accessible high-quality data, the EC-funded project developed the original global Food Security Portal to pool together timely, relevant, detailed, and high-quality country-level information in a systematic and structured way. The FSP-SSA represents the latest step in the project, focusing on regional needs.
– G7 commits to lifting 500 million people out of hunger and malnutrition by 2030
foodsecurityportal.org , 8-06-2015
The G7 Summit closed this afternoon in Krün, Germany, and the leaders announced their commitment to continue and build upon a wide range of interventions for food security and nutrition. As part of a broad effort involving partner countries and international actors, the G7 aims to lift 500 million people in developing countries out of hunger and malnutrition by 2030. Proposed efforts focus on supporting dynamic rural transformations, promoting responsible investment and sustainable agriculture, and fostering multisectoral approaches to nutrition. The group aims to safeguard food security and nutrition in conflicts and crisis, and ensure its actions continue to empower women, smallholders, and family farmers as well as advancing and supporting sustainable agriculture and food value chains. For more details, the G7’s Broad Food Security and Nutrition Development Approach is outlined starting on page 10 of the annex to the Leaders’ Declaration. The approach is intended to build on long-term G7 efforts for food security and nutrition such as the the L’Aquila Food Security Initiative, the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, the Land Partnerships and the Global Nutrition for Growth (N4G) Compact.
– The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2015
he number of hungry people in the world has dropped to 795 million – 216 million fewer than in 1990-92 – or around one person out of every nine, according to the latest edition of the annual UN hunger report (The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2015 – SOFI). In the developing regions, the prevalence of undernourishment – which measures the proportion of people who are unable to consume enough food for an active and healthy life – has declined to 12.9 percent of the population, down from 23.3 percent a quarter of a century ago reports SOFI 2015, published today by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP). A majority – 72 out of 129 – of the countries monitored by FAO have achieved the Millennium Development Goal target of halving the prevalence of undernourishment by 2015, with developing regions as a whole missing the target by a small margin. In addition, 29 countries have met the more ambitious goal laid out at the World Food Summit in 1996, when governments committed to halving the absolute number of undernourished people by 2015.
– Regional Overview of Food Insecurity: Africa
The publication covers key aspects of regional food security and nutrition, including evolution of undernourishment (and other forms of malnutrition) in the region; other indicators that help understand hunger and malnutrition; highlights of policy developments that are relevant (using the Food and Agriculture Policy Decision Analysis [FAPDA] and other monitoring tools); and individual country success stories. [Click here to read the report]
Agriculture, particularly family farming, is crucial for Caribbean countries to achieve food security as they face climate change and other challenges, and can also spur their economic development by creating jobs, especially for youth, according to FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva. In a statement to a Caribbean Community (CARICOM) heads of government summit in the Bahamas on Thursday, he stressed how over the last two decades efforts to combat hunger and malnutrition in the Caribbean have made substantial progress.The FAO Director-General noted that more than 70 developing countries have already met the Millennium Development Goalhunger target of halving the proportion of hungry people by 2015.
About 805 million people in the world, or one in nine, suffer from hunger, according to a new UN report released today. The State of Food Insecurity in the World (SOFI 2014) confirmed a positive trend which has seen the number of hungry people decline globally by more than 100 million over the last decade and by 209 million since 1990-92. The report is published annually by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP). The overall trend in hunger reduction in developing countries means that the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving the proportion of undernourished people by 2015 is within reach, “if appropriate and immediate efforts are stepped up,” the report said. To date, 63 developing countries have reached the MDG target, and six more are on track to reach it by 2015. [Click here to read the report]
agricarib.org, July 2014
CARICOM View is a publication of the CARICOM Secretariat. The July 2011 issue addresses food security and contain articles on efforts by CARICOM to move towards food security, praedial larceny and its consequences to Caribbean agriculture and other interesting articles. [Click here to read the article]
– Snapshots of Food and Nutrition Security in the Pacific Region
IFPRI, May 2014
Food security issues in the Pacific such as declining agricultural production and productivity, diet change and dependency on food imports, increasing urbanisation, youth unemployment, poverty, malnutrition and environmental degradation, has been recognised and prioritised at the highest Political level.
No Food Security Without Land Security
If slavery was a scourge to humanity, denying legitimate tenure rights is the cancer eating away the future of smallholder farmers who feed the world, often under trying conditions, say civil society organisations. “The developed countries succeeded by developing their agriculture and the capital from agriculture was the basis for the industrial development thanks to the rights to land,” José Antonio Osaba Garcia from the World Rural Forum (WRF) and coordinator of the International Year of Family Farming (ITFF) tells TerraViva. “Why is Africa and other countries not being allowed to develop their agriculture rooted in family farms as the basis for developing their countries? It is because land tenure is the heart of this.” Hundreds of millions of small landholders, pastoralists and indigenous people do not hold formal land titles. And when it suits governments, they ignore this customary land holding and sell or lease the land to private companies. Garcia says the global land rush, particularly in Africa, has exposed the extent to which smallholder farmers are being disposed of their ancestral lands that supported food security. “Agriculture is the basis of development and we see that the pressure is strong in favour of big investors, many times at the expense of family farming, particularly in Africa and Latin America. I cannot single out models where land tenure is working, but we have heard about some success of land tenure in Brazil. But that too has had some problems.” According to data compiled by the International Land Coalition, some 45 million hectares of land has been or is about to be signed over to foreign investors in Africa, Southern Asia and Latin America.
Retail food outlets in Pacific island countries are increasingly selling imported processed foods that are pricing locally produced, healthier foods out of the market and affecting the health of islanders, FAO warned today. In order to restore a viable market for local food producers and reduce demand on imported products, a policy-driven, multi-sector approach is required, FAO said in a discussion paper being presented at its 32nd Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific. The FAO paper makes the case that, with a concerted effort, there is significant growth potential for increased consumption of domestic agricultural products in Pacific island countries, particularly in the expanding urban and tourist markets. [Click here to read the report]
– Global hunger down, but millions still chronically hungry
Some 842 million people, or roughly one in eight, suffered from chronic hunger in 2011-13, not getting enough food to lead active and healthy lives according to a report released by the UN food agencies. The number is down from 868 million reported for the 2010-12 period, according to the State of Food Insecurity in the World(SOFI 2013), published every year by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP). The vast majority of hungry people live in developing regions, while 15.7 million live in developed countries. Drawing on the suite of indicators, the report also examines the diverse experiences of six countries in more detail, finding a mixed picture of progress and setbacks. Together, these country experiences show the importance of social protection and nutrition-enhancing interventions, policies to increase agricultural productivity and rural development, diverse sources of income and long-term commitment to mainstreaming food security and nutrition in public policies and programmes. [Click here to read the report]
Worldwide, 870 million people go hungry every day. With the world population projected to exceed nine billion people by 2050, global agricultural output must expand by an estimated 60 percent to meet global food needs. Yet, in many places, deforestation triggered by escalating demand for food, fibre and fuel is degrading ecosystems, diminishing water availability and limiting the collection of fuelwood – all of which reduce food security, especially for the poor. Natural forests are critical for the survival of forest-dwellers, including many indigenous peoples, and they help deliver clean water to agricultural lands by protecting catchments. Farmers increase food security by retaining trees on agricultural land, by encouraging natural regeneration and by planting trees and other forest plants. For most of the year, herders in arid and semi-arid lands depend on trees as a source of fodder for their livestock. Forests, trees and agroforestry systems contribute to food security and nutrition in many ways, but such contributions are usually poorly reflected in national development and food security strategies. Coupled with poor coordination between sectors, the net result is that forests are mostly left out of policy decisions related to food security and nutrition. [Click here to read the report]
– Issues in Caribbean Food Security: Building Capacity in Local Food Production Systems
Paper addresses the problem of food security in the Caribbean and opportunities to enhance capacity and farming enterprise. Case-study examples from Jamaica.