Leaders blame food insecurity on bad policies

Thursday September 07 2023
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President Samia Suluhu Hassan (C) speaking during the Africa Green Revolution Forum at Julius Nyerere International Conference Centre in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on September 7, 2023. PHOTO | X via IKULU TANZANIA


This week, leaders and experts gathered in Dar es Salaam, the commercial capital of Tanzania to discuss agricultural systems from seed production to harvesting to food processing. They agreed there were gaps in every step, with most countries relying on archaic technology and little investments in production chains.

The host, President Samia Suluhu Hassan told an audience on Thursday it was sort of shameful for 250 million Africans, out of the continent’s 1.3 billion to go hungry every day, today, when Africa holds 65 percent of the world’s arable land. “We have an urgent obligation to bring change on this issue,” she told the Africa Food Systems Forum 2023.

“And meetings like this, of leaders, experts and campaigners are important to design strategies that can change our food systems from production and the entire value chains through proper implementation of better policies.”

Leaders including Kenyan President William Ruto, Senegal’s Macky Sall, Burundi’s Evariste Ndayishimiye and Mozambique’s Filipe Nyusi were in attendance. Closer home, where more than 24 million people in the Eastern Africa region are facing perennial hunger, trade and inclusive policies could help, argued President Ruto.

“Africa has a huge potential in the agricultural space to exploit. We must step forward, join hands and put to use the untapped resources that we have — including the enormous arable lands and favourable weather,” he told the Forum on Thursday.

Read: EA faces more food shortage as conflicts add mouths to feed


“The intentional recruitment of the youth into the sector will boost production and make the continent a net food exporter.”

And he admitted Tanzania has come in handy in the past to aid shortages in neighbouring countries by agreeing on a smooth flow of goods across the East African region. Tanzania has grown to be a major exporter of food to Kenya but occasionally, the movement of food is restricted at the borders as countries fight over non-tariff barriers.

Tanzania says agriculture could employ about three million youth by 2030. Recently, it launched a specialized programme for youth, targeting an initial group 1252 young people with support for livestock, crop farming and fisheries.

Since Monday, Africa’s top brains in food security have been discussing proper policy in agriculture at the Africa Green Revolution Forum. And they have been consistent in calling for huge investments in agriculture to ward off food insecurity caused by the prolonged droughts.

The Forum is the premier platform for advancing the agriculture and food systems agenda on the continent, from food security to agri-food investments which experts have noted is still low in most African countries.

Read: Why EA must look inward to address food insecurity

Experts here have cited multiple reports including the recent study by the International Federation of the Red Cross which said a fifth of Africa’s 1.3 billion people go to bed hungry every day. Africa’s food import bill is $75 billion per year but 22 million more people will get hungry by January. The figures by the State of Food Security and Nutrition Report of July 2023, say Africa’s food crisis is twice the global average.

The 2023 Africa Agriculture Status Report unveiled on the first day of the summit proceedings, revealed that with emphasis put on the repercussions of inaction which are not only confined to hunger and malnutrition but extend to economic, social and environmental domains, has undermined the progress made over the years.

Dr Agnes Kalibata, the president of Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa says a rapid population growth and climate change are Africa’s “dual challenge” which must be fought as one.

“Finding new financing mechanisms will be paramount in shaping a prosperous and food secure future for all its citizens,” she said.