World food security and what young Africans can do about it
Thursday, March 21, 2013
Higher agricultural yields would create jobs, lower food prices and reduce hunger and malnutrition. This is crucial in view of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)’s annual report, released last Thursday.
According to the report, a number of policy changes is still required to improve world food security. New data suggests that world food security remains “vulnerable”, with some 870 million people experiencing sustained hunger and two billion suffering from micronutrient deficiencies. The IFPRI, a Washington think tank, says such numbers are “unacceptably high”, and warns that anti-hunger programmes have been “piecemeal”.
“Agriculture in most developing countries is a labour-intensive sector and makes up a big chunk of the labour force,” says Lester Brown, founder of the advocacy group Earth Policy Institute. “In recent years, large firms have introduced a type of agriculture that is very capital-intensive and highly mechanized, but employs very little labour, so there has been a huge loss of employment. Further, modern agriculture requires modern infrastructure – electricity, grain elevators, fertilizer storage and mechanical expertise. To get there requires a lot of investment, but if done properly the nonfarm sector will grow alongside the farming sector.”