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hunger and povertyPresident Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe announced that the government has committed itself to end hunger and poverty in the country by expanding and improving its agricultural strategies. The president made this announcement at a United Pre-Food Systems Summit Dialogue hosted by the president of Malawi. Zimbabwe was one of many African countries that receive representation at the Summit.

Hunger in Zimbabwe

In the past two decades, farmers in Zimbabwe have struggled to feed the entire nation. In 2014, Africa Renewal reported that 2001 was “the last time Zimbabwe produced enough maize to meet its needs.” The reason for the lack of substantial produce is a deficit of financial support for the agriculture system in the country.

The COVID-19 pandemic has only heightened the inconsistency of agricultural produce. This is prevalent in the recovery of agriculture as a result of improved control of COVID-19 cases in the country. Food inflation during May 2021 was at 179% and records determined that prices were at a 0% to 20% decrease, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Progress Toward Ending Hunger

While the agriculture industry in Zimbabwe may be on the mend since the pandemic, there is still work that needs to occur. For example, 2021’s Global Report on Food Crises has found that there has been no recent progress toward the goal of reaching “zero hunger” in the world by 2030.

This is one of the motivating factors behind President Mnangagwa’s decision to end hunger and poverty in Zimbabwe. He claims that Zimbabwe’s best strategy requires that “institutions of higher learning must be roped in to offer innovation that climate-proofs the vital agriculture sector,” as the Zimbabwe Chronicle reported.

Higher-learning institutions can provide farmers and agricultural members with the knowledge of how to better cultivate the food they need. The institutions can also give resources for financial assistance, equipment access, lessons on nutrition and strengthening strategies within Zimbabwe’s food systems. With this strategy, the president believes that the agriculture system in Zimbabwe will be able to grow.

Boosting Zimbabwe’s Economy

As evidence suggests, the growth of agriculture and food systems in Zimbabwe is the key to boosting the entire economy. President Mnangagwa explains that “the present economic blueprint” and the country’s agriculture and food systems development plans “situates the agriculture sector as having a critical role in the overall development and growth of the economy.” He says further, “This is anchored on food and nutrition security, import substitution, exports generation, employment creation and the raising of household incomes.”

The positive development of agriculture in Zimbabwe is the key to ending hunger and poverty throughout the country. Agriculture provides citizens with food security and boosts the economy with exports, sales and employment. Thus, if the president’s plan falls into place as described, it could bring about a positive change for Zimbabwe, contributing to reduced global hunger and poverty.

– Riley Prillwitz
Photo: pixabay

end_global_hungerThe concept of poverty can be difficult to grasp, especially when it is far removed from our everyday lives.

While we may know that families go to bed hungry every night because they cannot afford to put dinner on the table, without tangible reminders that 925 million people around the world suffer from the effects of hunger, that knowledge often gets pushed to the background.

Overpopulation has been the most frequently blamed cause of starvation and global hunger, but there is more than enough food grown each year to feed the seven billion people on the planet. Then how is it that 2.5 million children die of starvation every year?

The answer to that question is complicated and has many contributing factors, but one reason is that a vast majority of the food grown today is fed to animals. The animal agriculture business has grown dramatically in the past 40 years, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

“Global meat production is projected to more than doubt from 229 million [tons] in 2001 to 465 million [tons] in 2050,” the organization states. In order to sustain the increasing demand for animal byproducts, farmers have to grow or purchase more and more feed for their growing stock of animals.

The amount of grain produced today is enough to feed the entire world twice over, but 70 percent of that grain goes towards feeding livestock. Half of the water consumed in the U.S. is used to grow grain for cattle feed.

The water necessary for meat breeding equals about 190 gallons per animal per day, which is ten times more than the average Indian family uses in a day.

Meat in general, but specifically beef, is an incredibly inefficient food source. In order to raise a cow to the necessary size for consumption, 157 million metric tons of grain and vegetable protein is used to produce a mere 28 metric tons of animal protein.

When that is scaled to the industrial scope the cattle industry is currently at, the massive amount of calories that could be consumed by humans but are instead fed to cattle, is tremendous. If these calories were redistributed to feed humans instead of animals, it could help end global hunger.

In 2010, a UN report said, “A global shift towards a vegan diet [one that does not include any animal products] is vital to save the world from hunger, fuel poverty and the worst impacts of climate change.” The report claims that the western meat and dairy rich diets have become simply unsustainable.

According to the same report, the meat and dairy industry account for 70 percent of global freshwater consumption, 38 percent of total land use and 19 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The vast amount of resources directed towards producing meat and dairy products is creating a food distribution issue. While there is enough food being grown, not enough of it is going directly towards feeding people, especially people in poverty.

Brittney Dimond

Sources: Global Issues, Live58, The Guardian, Gentle World, FAO
Photo: Wikipedia Commons
Photo Credit: Taken by Sean Hayes of veganliftz.com