STRATEGIC ANALYSIS OF FOOD SECURITY IN AFRICA
Report of the Food Security Committee of the AUF
Below: Plantain, a staple for millions of Africans
The Obscene Paradox
While Africans are dying of hunger, huge transnational agribusiness corporations continue to amass profits by exporting food from Africa.
Africa is self-sufficient in food stuffs, and remains a major source of supply of crops that are consumed daily in the Europe, Asia and the Americas. These include coffee, cocoa, sugar, groundnuts, vegetables, a wide variety of fruit, and palmoil (for cooking). The African Union is also a large producer of livestock including cattle, sheep, and game.
Africa is NOT agriculturally destitute and nor are the connections between export-oriented agriculture and its present hunger problems coincidental.
Agricultural growth and the effective management of natural resources the African Union need technology, support services for rural areas and increasing opportunities off farm to generate and market value added products. Coupled with agricultural policy and mechanisms to facilitate trade of agricultural products. The wastage of agricultural produce is a major problem in Africa. Processing of the waste has the potential to create entrepreneurial opportunities.
In many cases there is no synergy between closely related sets of development effort. Disconnects between various parts of the system reduce the impact and efficiency of the agriculture sector. A sub sector approach to commodity system development can help coordinate and build the linkages needed.
The AUF is pushing for the integration of research on food administration in Africa. Africans need a comprehensive and integrated food security strategy to guarantee variety of cereal stocks and animal species, and demographically-correct nutritional levels. The food strategy must benefit health regimes in our communities, and food must be accessible to all people in adequate amounts in order for other human activities to take place. No cultural growth is possible without food security.
There are three key elements that need radical action:
 Food Storage & Distribution Systems;
 Land and Legislative Reform
 Watershed and Ecological Management Reform
Africa has always had more than enough food for the entire population. However, the problem of scarcity arises on account of the fact that the available food stocks are not properly distributed across the continent. For example one region may have enough food and suplus to export abroad, while people in a neighbouring region starve. This scenerio is very common especially under conditions of civil unrest and war.
AFRICA'S FOOD CAPACITY
In Africa there are "permanent" soils, which will sustain permanent crops or repeated cultivation of annuals almost indefinitely, or which regain their fertility after a rest period not longer than the period of cultivation, if this is not unduly prolonged. On such soils, where political and climatic conditions are favourable, there is permanent cultivation and stable human habitation.
However, the traditional method of restorating exhausted soils allowing them to 'rest' for some years under the shifting cultivation technique, still practiced in Nigeria ( a large proportion of which soils have had their natural fertility exhausted ) is too slow for the level of demand for farm produce, too slow for the urgent need to raise standards of living in the region, and inadequate for the population concentration.
Interlacustrine African Cattle
In the past the most common method of utilizing animal manures in western Africa was to shift kraals/corrals from time to time and plant old kraal sites with crops. Cultivators who did not own cattle obtained manure by providing kraals for nomadic cattle herders and in some areas even paying nomads to use them.
Most of the older African pastoralists and cultivators generally know the value of the diferent grazing-and-browse species, which they can distinguish by specific names. They recognize ecological associations, or pasture types and can assess their value and stock-carrying capacity at different times of the year.
However, because of restrictions to movement posed by the adoption of national borders and traditional migration, as well as the adoption of colonial methods towards land use and ownership, African farmers are nolonger able to negotiate and manage the sensitive grazing & cultivation cycles and relationships. This has put great strain on African soils, and continues to constrain our ability to produce adequate amounts of food. In many cases strained relations resulting from competion fo land and water have led to disastrous wars.
The animal herds have also suffered because of restrictions on herding communities, which in the past have utilized various plant and grass species and associations that they regard as good for conditioning animals, managing mineral deficiencies, for improving potency and fertility, and for making milk and beef.
Below: African Bananas
The AUF aims to resolve these problems through the application of a detailed and comprehensive program of reform. This will necessitate functioning without regard to arbitrary national borders, but instead following advanced and thoroughly integrated land management models favourable to the aims of food security and peace in Africa. As well, the logical outlay of watersheds, soil-types, and the use of the expertise of Africans gathered over thousands of years of managing their own resources, with sensitivity to intergenerational accounting.
The incidence of food contamination is unacceptably high, and foodborne
diseases (e.g., campylobacteriosis and salmonellosis) have reached
epidemic proportions in Africa. This increase is a consequence of
different factors, often interrelated and complex, which may arise
from changes in:
-food supply system (e.g. longer food chain)
-health and demographic situation (e.g. increase in # of vulnerable people)
-social situation, behaviour and lifestyle (e.g. new patterns of food
preparation and consumption)
-health system and infrastructure (e.g. weaknesses in surveillance and
-environmental conditions (e.g. changes in ecological systems).
-Emerging problems, such as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy,
enterohemorragic Escherichia coli, multidrug resistant strains, and
-Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are creating additional concerns
among both the public and the decision-makers.
The AUF Food Safety Programme operates to ensure that:
-information on food safety is properly collected and circulated to
provide the basis for policy and monitoring;
-health-oriented guidelines are constantly updated;
-a continental body plays a public health advocacy role vis-à-vis the
strong economic forces acting within the areas of food production,
retailing and marketing.