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Quinoa in AfricaIn Africa, approximately 257 million people are suffering from hunger and chronic undernutrition. Specifically, 237 million people in sub-Saharan Africa and 20 million people in North Africa face hunger. Agricultural challenges such as crop degradation, drought and weather-related challenges affecting agricultural growth and development are contributing factors to hunger in Africa. However, more sustainable agricultural practices such as the production and harvest of quinoa in Africa can help fight hunger.

Providing Protein to African Communities

Cedric Habiyaremye is one of many individuals making a difference in African agricultural practices. Growing up in a Tanzanian refugee camp, Habiyaremye is no stranger to hunger. He knew at a young age that he wanted to make sure that his family didn’t have to go to bed hungry every single night. This catalyzed his interest in studying agriculture and finding more sustainable ways to produce food. One of his main focuses is on the production of quinoa, a grain that is high in protein, which can be grown in hot and dry climates. In many African countries, such as Rwanda, the majority of families do not have access to protein, making quinoa a valuable crop to cultivate.

In addition to Habiyaremye’s work in Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya, groups like Danish Church Aid introduced quinoa to Ethiopia. Approximately 600 farmers received seeds from the EU Resilience Building and Creation of Economic Opportunities in Ethiopia (RESET II) project and farmers have been trained on how to grow and harvest it.

Moving Forward: Quinoa in Africa

Although there is no conclusive evidence or research on the success of quinoa crops in Africa, the prospect of a protein-rich crop is an important innovation. Since first being introduced in Kenya in the 1990s, quinoa and its many varieties have most recently been introduced in Malawi in 2012. Various programs in Malawi, such as the School of Agriculture for Family Independence (SAFI) in partnership with the NuSkin Force for Good Foundation, has seen great success. Families have come to learn about agricultural practices together at the school, and then bring those techniques home where they also teach other members of their community.

Educating and helping individuals grow and harvest quinoa by themselves are the most sustainable ways to provide communities with protein. The cultivation of crops such as quinoa is critical as population and hunger continue to increase in Africa.

Quinoa’s Potential to Endure Change

Many plant scientists have been concerned about crop failure and feeding the world’s growing population. Two plant and wildlife professors at Brigham Young University have studied and sequenced the quinoa genome, and have been part of projects in Africa to teach communities how to plant and harvest the crop. As the population is rising and changing weather patterns affect many places, quinoa is essential because of its high protein content and cultivation potential in many types of environments where other crops do not grow.

Kalicia Bateman
Photo: Unsplash

Hunger in Africa
World hunger has been on the rise for the third year in a row, with nearly 10 million more people without enough food to survive on. Hunger in Africa is especially prevalent, where over 25 percent of the population suffers from some form of food insecurity.

There are many factors that play a role in why some areas of Africa suffer from food insecurity. While poverty is a key factor, environmental issues such as drought, desertification, overpopulation and ongoing conflicts are all contributing issues. These issues inhibit the creation of a stable food source. Therefore, the lack of food stability is a key contributor to hunger in Africa. However, a new and innovative digital solution is joining the fight against hunger in Africa.

Jumia in Africa

Jeremy Hodara and Sacha Poignonnec founded Jumia in 2012, which is an online marketplace for clothes, technology and other commodities. The website has quickly gained the reputation of being the Amazon of Africa, because of its similarity to Amazon in operation and magnitude.

The website created a service, Jumia Food, that delivers fresh food to citizens and businesses alike in 11 African countries. The service aims to reduce food scarcity in Africa by offering a reliable source of food to select countries.

Services like Jumia Food are common in the United States. For example, the services Imperfect Produce and Farm Box Direct, offer the delivery of fresh produce to people’s homes. These companies act as a way to promote sustainability and lower food waste in America; however, Jumia Foods also offers a way to maintain a healthy diet from a safe and reliable source of food.

Jumia Food offers basic food necessities that people can normally find in supermarkets, as well as the delivery of restaurant foods, alcoholic beverages and an assortment of commodities, such as electronics and beauty products. Jumia employed delivery drivers to deliver all orders by bike.

Internet Access

While not a continent-wide solution to food insecurity, Jumia Foods has great potential for those with an internet connection in Africa. The ongoing conflicts in a number of African countries and the fact that the majority of Africans live without a car make trips to a local supermarket a difficult endeavor. This is especially the case for those who live in rural regions far away from a supermarket or grocery store.

Despite this, most of Africa is still without connection to the internet. This difficulty currently hinders the impact of the service. Less than 12 percent of the world’s internet users are located in an African country and only around 13.5 percent of Africans have internet access. However, telecommunication in Africa is growing at a rapid rate. In 2018 alone, the number of internet users in Africa increased by 20 percent.

Bridging the Gap

The internet is a great solution to help reduce hunger in Africa because of the potential to connect remote parts of any country to a reliable food source. As internet usage in Africa continues to rise, this will hopefully reduce food insecurity. With services like Jumia Foods and the potential to connect thousands of customers to their local supermarket, enormous progress is in the future.

Jumia Foods cannot provide food to the most impoverished corners of Africa yet, but the business is nonetheless a futuristic solution that will help provide food to many African consumers. With every additional country that the service expands into, it will create more delivery driver jobs. Further, food insecurity may reduce through this innovative new solution to hunger in Africa.

Andrew Lueker
Photo: Flickr

Bill-and-Melinda-Gates-Foundation-Ghana
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation highly anticipates the probability that Africa can eliminate hunger by 2030. Investments by the Foundation have had a profound impact on Ghanaian and Sub-Saharan African government-led programs since 2009. These programs implement useful nutritional habits and information within communities. Bill and Melinda Gates refers to the Home Grown School Feeding (HGSF) program as “the backbone of the African economy.”

Every seven out of 10 Sub-Saharan Africans are small farmers. Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) is one branch of HGSF sustaining innovative ways to feed schoolchildren in the nation while benefiting farmers and their families. Partnership for Child Development (PCD) creates school meal planners designed for easy access and usage by each user.

The online tool available at GSFP’s website provides locally available ingredients for users to select and design their preferred plan. They can find farmers by diet and cost. It is especially useful to program managers. Daily recommended consumption of specific nutrients as conditioned by the World Health Organization (WHO) is illustrated on gingerbread-children graphics for basic educational purposes.

The planner is also available by other means than internet access. There are 400 community health leaders talking with the public while handing out thousands of health posters and distributing radio-jingles. These teach organizers and families practical hygienic practices to keep children safe and healthy.

According to WHO, 13.4 percent of children less than 5 years of age were underweight in 2011. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gives substantial aid to the cause. The University of Michigan obtained a $3 million grant from the foundation in 2008.

The university long awaited the chance to enhance health and raise the capacity for governmental aptitude in Ghana. Their goal was to improve human resources by focusing on specific enhancement routes such as developing reliable data systems. They also sought to educate health workers.

In 2013, Gates met with PCD and GSFP representatives discussing concrete endeavors administered by HGSF. By meeting with local farmers, teachers and caterers, Gates learned how GSFP also helps the economic development as farmers get access to the market chain. Other prominent issues needing to be addressed aligned with beneficial crop storage services and how farmers and school caterers were communicating.

Since funding the University of Michigan’s global relief plan run by the Center for Global Health (CGH) and participating in groundwork surveillance, Bill and Melinda Gates have coordinated a list of necessities that will ensure a nourished future. To start with, farmers should have better outputs when seed and fertilizer are easily accessible.

They note also that fostering different foods will allow for an assortment of crops and a more diverse selection of sustenance. Embracing new technology, such as mobile phones, will provide quick access to useful farming information. Finally, when crop storage improves, harvests can market conveniently.

Among Bill and Melinda’s outline are also suggestions for modifying food production and delivery. They point out the GSFP as a successful program as caterers design nutritional meals for their school. Farmers can communicate with schools using the planner by knowing when food is needed and what the general outline is for each meal plan and budget. Free nutritional meals are given to 1.7 million children daily thanks to the GSFP.

The outline by Gates goes on to distinguish how other programs under HGSF have succeeded in improving African economy. Zanzibar’s HGSF trained farmers to grow orange fresh sweet potatoes that are rich in Vitamin C. The program in Kenya utilizes mobile phones to increase communication between farmers and schools. Osun State created over 3,000 jobs for caterers and factory workers.

According to Bill and Melinda Gates, if efforts to beat malnutrition continue, by 2030 Africa will be resilient when facing the issue of malnutrition. They predict that a focus on agriculture is the key to witnessing food security in Africa.

– Katie Groe

Sources: Impatient Optimists, Home Grown School Feeding, WHO
Photo: Vox

causes of hunger in africa
What causes hunger in Africa? To be certain, Africa is by no means a single entity. The second largest continent on Earth, Africa is an enormous landmass that is home to a wide variety of landscapes, cultures and people.

That said, the continent is also home to much of the world’s hunger, spread across several of the world’s poorest countries. Approximately 30 million people in Africa face the effects of severe food insecurity, including malnutrition, starvation and poverty.

Ending hunger not just in Africa but wherever it occurs is crucial to solving impoverishment and, accordingly, is a leading priority for many humanitarian organizations.

 

Causes of Hunger in Africa

 

1. Lack of Infrastructure

Many of the African countries in which there is widespread hunger are countries in which there is also plenty of food. Agriculture is the leading economic industry in several of the hungriest African nations including Niger, Ethiopia and Somalia.

The issue is not that there is a lack of food, the issue is that there are are often no reliable pathways for getting that food from the fields into that hands of the people who need it the most. Many hungry countries lack accessible rural roads on which food could be transported into the countryside.

Where it does not already exist, building the infrastructure necessary for distributing food is essential to ending hunger in Africa.

2. Poverty

Poverty is a cause of hunger in Africa as well as an effect. Nearly a third of individuals living in sub-Saharan Africa are “undernourished,” and 41 percent of people in that same area live on less than U.S. $1 daily. That’s no coincidence; high rates of poverty are correlated with high rates of hunger because acquiring adequate food provisions requires ample resources, not only financial but social as practical as well.

3. Gender Inequality

According to one of the most successful hunger-focused humanitarian organizations, The Hunger Project, gender inequality is a major driving force behind hunger because food tends to go further in the hands of women. When women have adequate food supplies, they as well as their families experience better health and social outcomes than when men have sole control of food rations.

However, in many African nations experiencing hunger crises, though women do the majority of agricultural work, they do not control their own access to food. Addressing gender inequality where it occurs in Africa will be central to eradicating hunger.

4. AIDS

AIDS is especially prevalent in southern Africa (Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe), where approximately six million people are estimated to live with the condition. Not only does AIDS render these individuals too sick to do any sort of agricultural work (which, if farming is their livelihood, can throw them into poverty), it can also render them to sick to leave their homes to acquire food for themselves and their families.

– Elise L. Riley

Sources: Save the Children, The Hunger Project, World Food Programme
Photo: Ceasefire Magazine

african farmers
In a new report released by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, African farmers, small-scale farmers in particular, are facing serious risks from climate change.

Accounting for approximately 80 percent of farmers in Africa, small-scale farmers are at risk especially due to their small plots of land and lack of resources, hampering their ability to develop effective and reliable irrigation systems. With insufficient labor and resources, these farmers have low input and low-yields, resulting in essentially subsistence level agriculture.

Released at the African Green Revolution Forum, which drew approximately 1,000 delegates including heads of state and government, scientists and business leaders, the report highlighted the consequences of the changing climate of the continent, both in the short and long term.

The report estimates that climate change could increase the number of malnourished from the current 223 million to 355 million by 2050, a 40 percent increase.

The variation in climate, such as prolonged droughts or torrential downpours, has introduced the concept of “failed seasons;” growing seasons that are particularly hampered by the effects of climate change. Increased temperatures have already plagued farmers and average temperatures are expected to continue to rise, with a 1.5 to 2.5°C increase expected by 2050.

Changing climate conditions also has the potential to lower mineral concentrations such as iron and zinc in crops, aggravating the existent problem of nutrient deficiency in Africa.

For some basic crops, the conditions have already become too extreme to tolerate. In East and Central Africa where beans are grown, the effects of climate change could reduce its current seven million hectares by 25 to 80 percent. Land in West Africa and the Sahel suitable for growing bananas could also see a drop of eight and 25 percent respectively.

With food production difficult even now, climate variations threaten to exacerbate the situation further with intense food shocks and cement a perpetual cycle of rural poverty.

Such extreme effects have already begun to take place. Parts of Angola can no longer be used for agriculture after a prolonged three year period of little rainfall and drought.

To adjust to the almost inevitable effects of climate change, the report recommends small-scale farmers adopt a number of ‘climate-smart’ techniques and policies.

Dr. Ameyaw, director of strategy monitoring and evaluation for AGRA, stressed the “efficient use of water—groundwater, surface water and rainwater” in a system that is 98 percent reliant on rainfall.

Included among these climate-smart investments are improved soil and water management, utilizing new crop varieties and improved efficiency through mechanization.

Furthermore, a shift in culture toward sustainability is encouraged. Developing stronger land rights, for women in particular; improving information systems; investing in research and encouraging the preservation of biodiversity are all potential areas of expansion that would help improve the situation.

The authors of the report also emphasize other trends to be concerned about such as rapid population growth and urbanization, which both can affect development and growth.

William Ying

Sources: Africa Agriculture Status Report 2014, BBC, Phys.org, AllAfrica 1, AllAfrica 2
Sources: MSU