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Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Oxfam: Africa can produce the food it needs

The number of people who go hungry in Africa’s poorest countries is growing despite advances in food production, say Oxfam researchers who urge European donors and African governments to invest more in small farms and give rural people a bigger stake in decision-making.
A new report by the global anti-poverty group says more than 230 million people – or one-in-four Africans living south of the Sahara – are undernourished, up 38% from 20 years ago. In the same time, it contends that Africa can produce the food it needs to reduce hunger and improve nutrition, if the farm sector gets the right help through national and international policies.
But studies show that underinvestment in research, training, irrigation and storage hinder farm productivity in the African sub-continent. Poor roads mean farmers can’t get goods to markets, undermining the fight against hunger and the livelihoods of growers. Though Africa is rich in ecosystem diversity, only about 10% of the continent has naturally fertile soils for growing food crops but poor management practices threaten even those areas.
Just 4.9% of the overall €100 billion in global development aid went to support agricultural production in 2011, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Meanwhile, researchers fear that more and more African land is being shifted from cultivation for local consumption to production for export crops.Investors from the Middle East, Asia and Europe are tapping Africa’s cheap land and labour to supplement their own commodity production while giving governments of poor nations lucrative export revenue. The EU alone imports 40% of sub-Saharan Africa’s agricultural exports.
Source: Euractiv