Agriculture / Food Security

One-third of sub-Saharan Africa, and half a billion Asians, are hungry this year–Africa Progress Panel and FAO

FAO graphic of the percentage of people undernourished

According to the FAO, the percentage of people living with very high or high undernourishment is 32% in sub-Saharan Africa and 15% in Asia & Pacific (graphic credit: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations).

Two stats leap at at you, fighting for your attention, in the figure above, by the Food and Agriculture Organization, reproduced in the latest issue of the Africa Progress Panel Bulletin. One is that nearly one-third of the people in sub-Saharan Africa are undernourished; the other is that more than half a billion people in Asia and the Pacific are hungry.

Other unconscionable statistics compiled for the annual flagship report, The State of Food Insecurity in the World, jointly published this month (October 2010) by the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Programme, include the following:
Two-thirds of undernourished people live in 7 countries: Bangladesh, China, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Pakistan
Over 40% of undernourished people live in 2 countries: China and India
Developing countries account for 98% of all hungry people
Every 6 seconds a child dies of a hunger-related disease.

Michael Keating at Africa Progress Panel writes the following.
‘This week sees the first Africa Food and Nutrition Day, and the Conference of African Ministers of Agriculture in Lilongwe, a fitting venue given the dramatic increase in food production in Malawi over the last five years, primarily a result of Government-led, donor supported, input subsidy scheme.

‘As a recent [Africa Progress Panel] policy brief underscores, African agriculture has suffered from neglect and under-investment. The Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) offers a way forward and deserves all the support it can get. . . .

‘Malawi’s use of subsidies offers a compelling model of what can be done. But input subsidy schemes are  not without major financial and political risks, and may anyway be better suited to conditions in some countries than others.

‘The path to food and nutrition security needs to be charted as a function of specific circumstances, taking into account issues such as land ownership, the status and rights of women, sources of growth and jobs other than agriculture, trade, the strength of markets. . . .

‘Keeping food, hunger and nutrition issues at the top of the international agenda is critical. This should be self-evident, given the deprivation endured by hundreds of millions of people, and not just in Africa (see chart). . . .

Read the whole article at Africa Progress Panel Bulletin: Food first, 28 October 2010.

Read the Africa Progress Panel Policy Brief this bulletin refers to, ‘Raising agricultural productivity in Africa: Options for action, and the role of subsidies,’ September 2010.

Read about the State of Food Insecurity in the World, October 2010.

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