Monday 23 October 2023

How to Achieve Zero Hunger in Africa by 2030

Photo by Marcos quinteiro on Pexels

By Atinuke Adeosun

Hunger is a global challenge that affects millions of people around the world, especially in Africa. According to the latest report by the United Nations, the number of undernourished people in Africa rose to 282 million in 2020, which is 21% of its population. This is more than double that of any other region. The report also concluded that the UN Sustainable Development Goal of Zero Hunger by 2030 will be missed by a margin of nearly 660 million people.

This is a grim reality that calls for urgent action from all stakeholders, including governments, civil society, private sector, and individuals. Achieving zero hunger in Africa is not only a moral obligation, but  an economic imperative. Hunger and malnutrition have negative impacts on health, education, productivity, and social development. On the other hand, ensuring food security and nutrition can boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and enhance peace and stability.

But how can we achieve zero hunger in Africa by 2030? What are the steps that need to be taken to transform the continent’s food systems and ensure access to safe, nutritious, and sufficient food for all? 

1. Increase Investment in Agriculture and Rural Development

Agriculture is the backbone of Africa’s economy, employing about 60% of its labor force and contributing about 15% of its GDP. However, the sector faces many challenges, such as low productivity, climate change, pests and diseases, land degradation, and poor infrastructure. These challenges limit the potential of agriculture to meet the growing demand for food and create income opportunities for rural populations.

To address these challenges, there is a need to increase investment in agriculture and rural development. This includes investing in research and innovation, improving access to inputs and markets, enhancing irrigation and mechanization, promoting sustainable land management, and strengthening resilience to shocks. According to the African Union, increasing public spending on agriculture to at least 10% of national budgets can result in an annual growth rate of at least 6% in the sector.

2. Promote Regional Integration and Trade

Africa has a large and diverse market for food products, with a population of over 1.3 billion people and a GDP of over $2.6 trillion. However, intra-African trade in agricultural products remains low, accounting for only 17% of total trade. This is due to various barriers, such as tariffs, non-tariff measures, poor infrastructure, lack of harmonized standards, and weak institutional frameworks.

To overcome these barriers, there is a need to promote regional integration and trade. This includes implementing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which aims to create a single market for goods and services across the continent. The AfCFTA can boost intra-African trade by creating opportunities for farmers and agribusinesses to access new markets, increase competitiveness, and diversify their products. It can also enhance food security by facilitating the movement of food across borders and reducing price volatility.

3. Empower Women and Youth

Women and youth play a vital role in Africa’s food systems, as they are involved in various activities along the value chain, from production to consumption. However, they face many constraints that limit their participation and contribution. For example, women have less access than men to land, credit, inputs, extension services, and decision-making power. Youth also face challenges such as unemployment, underemployment, skills mismatch, and lack of mentorship.

To address these constraints, there is a need to empower women and youth. This includes ensuring their equal rights and opportunities in accessing resources and services, providing them with education and training, supporting their entrepreneurship and innovation, and involving them in policy-making and governance. Empowering women and youth can enhance their productivity, income, and well-being, as well as contribute to food security and nutrition for themselves and their families.

4. Reduce Food Loss and Waste

Food loss and waste  refers to the decrease in quantity or quality of food along the supply chain, from production to consumption. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), about one-third of all food produced globally is lost or wasted every year. Food loss and waste not only represents a loss of valuable resources and income, but also contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, water scarcity, and land degradation.

To reduce food loss and waste, there is a need to adopt a holistic approach that involves all actors and stages of the food system. This includes improving post-harvest handling and storage, enhancing processing and packaging, expanding cold chain and logistics, raising consumer awareness and behavior change, and strengthening policy and regulatory frameworks.

5. Enhance Nutrition and Food Safety

Nutrition and food safety are essential components of food security, as they affect the health and well-being of people. However, many people in Africa suffer from various forms of malnutrition, such as undernutrition, micronutrient deficiencies, and overweight and obesity. Malnutrition not only impairs physical and cognitive development, but also increases the risk of infections, chronic diseases, and mortality.

Food safety is also a major concern in Africa, as foodborne hazards can cause illness, disability, and death. Foodborne diseases can also affect trade, tourism, and livelihoods.

To enhance nutrition and food safety, there is a need to implement integrated and multisectoral interventions that address the underlying causes and consequences of malnutrition and foodborne diseases. This includes promoting dietary diversity and quality, fortifying staple foods with micronutrients, supporting breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices, improving hygiene and sanitation, strengthening food control systems and standards, and raising awareness and education.

6. Support Smallholder Farmers and Agroecology

Smallholder farmers are the backbone of Africa’s food systems, as they produce the majority of the food consumed in the continent. However, they face many challenges that limit their productivity and profitability, such as lack of access to inputs, credit, markets, extension services, and insurance. They also bear the brunt of climate change impacts, such as droughts, floods, pests, and diseases.

Agroecology is an approach that applies ecological principles to agricultural systems, aiming to enhance productivity, resilience, diversity, and sustainability. Agroecology can also improve social equity and empowerment by involving farmers in co-creating knowledge and solutions that suit their local contexts.

To support smallholder farmers and agroecology, there is a need to provide them with adequate resources and services that enable them to adopt sustainable practices and innovations. This includes facilitating access to inputs, credit, markets, extension services, and insurance, promoting participatory research and learning, encouraging farmer-to-farmer exchange and cooperation, and recognizing and rewarding their contributions to food security and environmental conservation.

At Shades of Us, we understand the profound impact that achieving Zero Hunger by 2030 would have on the continent and its people. We actively promote sustainable agriculture to ensure food security, advocate for the reduction of food waste to maximize resources, empower women and youth to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of agriculture, and emphasize the importance of nutrition and food safety in enhancing the well-being of African communities. 

Achieving zero hunger in Africa by 2030 is a daunting but feasible challenge. It requires collective action from all stakeholders, including governments, civil society, private sector, and individuals. It also requires transforming the continent’s food systems to make them more productive, resilient, inclusive, and sustainable. By implementing the strategies and actions outlined in this blog post, we can make significant progress towards this noble goal and ensure that no one in Africa goes hungry.

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