Food for Thought?

By Drushti Joshi (Achievers Editor)



The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) recognises the Right to Food; as does The Universal Declaration of Human  Rights; as does the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as well as The Right to Food and Access to Natural Resources for Food.

Sixty years after the first affirmation, much remains to be done to make this a reality.

Let me list out the existing causes of this food insecurity in Africa-

1. Improper agricultural productivity systems in countries worst affected. These countries not only lack resources, but also education on how to optimize the usage of the same. Lack of proper technology isn’t much help either. It’s much under the mandate of the UNFAO to provide simple but efficient tools which can be used effectively on arable land. FAO, we’re still waiting for those tools to be given out.

2. Incessant civil strife, which leads to a weakening of the political and legislative systems, which again subsequently leads to the domination of mafia; most notable cases being Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo. Resources of the country get diverted towards war and civilians are often left at the mercy of refugee camps. Although these countries have the potential to prosper agriculturally (and hence, economically), wars, both civil and otherwise, prevent this. For example, Sudan being one of the countries in the Horn of Africa has a fairly good access to water and enjoys a marvellous quality of soil which can produce wonders if irrigated and planted upon. Similarly (but not quite the same), Democratic Republic of Congo has, beneath its land, a plethora of diamonds and other valuable industrial minerals.
Unfortunately, larger countries surrounding it take advantage of its war with Rwanda and exploit these minerals shamelessly, often indulging in ‘ethnic cleansing’, which means wiping away chunks of populations residing in areas by means one wouldn’t see in one’s worst nightmare (read : Cannibalism).

3. It’s understood that Africa is a dry continent. However that’s no excuse to say that climate resilience cannot be built. The Early Warning Systems (EWS) which were put in place to predict long term environmental changes –droughts, floods etc. These systems began producing erratic and inaccurate reports, consequences of which are being faced today. I also completely FAIL to understand as to why the oh-so much emphasis on agriculture using chemical pesticides and fertilizers and also the hinted condemnation of organic farming. Folks, if water is such a major issue in Africa, then shouldn’t organic farming be encouraged because the wastewater from the same can be treated to be used again? Water once ‘tainted’ by chemical pesticides and fertilizers is unfit for use EVER again.

4. Trade barriers: I-Don’t-Want-To-Go-There. You-Can’t-Make-Me. Ok-Fine. ‘Double standards’ is the only phrase I can think of. The African countries which are in a dire need of funding to resolve their problem of hungry, starving, DYING people, ‘urge’ developed nations to help them by sharing technology, resources etc for their long-term, sustainable growth in…Well, almost every sphere. Understood. They also expect aid to resolve the short-term crisis at hand. Ok. Understood. But how do they expect this funding to be given if they have numerous trade barriers which prevent nations from helping them out?

It also seems that there is a certain amount of distrust among the African nations themselves. Allow me to explain with an example. DR Congo (yes, it’s my most favourite country ever) has 17 agencies on its border with Rwanda. These agencies have come to loot and harass traders traveling from one country to another. Still, instead of improving efficiency of these agencies, the number of agencies is increased further, only adding to the issue. I do wish to point out however, that the number of agencies required between DR Congo and Rwanda are only 4.
These are a few of the major issues (the list is endless) which contribute greatly to the on-going food shortage in the African continent. I haven’t yet addressed health, economic policies, emphasis on energy on fossil fuels and much more.
It’s an everyday crisis out there in Africa where a civilian battles for survival creating one of the biggest Human Rights issues the world may have faced till now. Short-term aiding or long-term development goals: action needs to be taken quickly, definitely more urgently than it is now.
Perhaps the solution is in the next issue.


7 Responses to Food for Thought?

  1. excellent job

  2. Well researched. :)

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