Africa’s Growing, but Hunger Remains

Africa Can Feed Itself. The World Bank reports that Africa is growing enough food for the continent to feed its population, and many NGOs specializing in food security agree. But often there is starvation and malnutrition in the lesser developed nations of Africa, and nations are forced to import increasing amounts of food from other world regions. What gives?

Improper distribution is the culprit. If you’ve seen Black Hawk Down, you have viewed the devastating scene of the Somalian government denying citizens of Mogadishu bags of grain. There is no denying that there have been moments of intense starvation in Africa’s recent history. Even though Africa now produces enough food, there are still high “cross-border restrictions on the food trade,” resulting in many nations not having the food security they could easily obtain. And with rapidly growing populations, food insecurity issues will only get worse if nothing changes.
Why create barriers to trade, especially with other African countries? Governments in Africa often oppose the export of foods out of their countries theoretically to stabilize their food supply, and to insure that their nation in particular does not run a deficit. But this strategy can and does leave their neighbors with shortages, and it can be lose-lose situation for the exporting nations then miss out on the capital they could make from the exports.
Free trade has not yet taken the priority with many of Africa’s governments, who have separate priorities or may simply believe that safeguarding their own resources will in the long-run most benefit their nation. Realistically, it probably won’t. When the countries on the same continent refuse to help each other they all lose out. So these restrictions should be eliminated. Mozambique, South Africa, and Zambia are a few of the exceptions that generally allow free trade of food supplies, and have been successful in decreasing hunger and growing their economies domestically. Africa has the ability to feed itself, and now the policy changes must be made in order to do so.

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