Knowledge for better food systems

Balancing food security and trade

Continuing with this theme, EurActiv.com posted an article, “EU’s food imports pose ‘tricky balance’ for hungry Africans,” which discusses the difficulty of creating economic development and food security throughout Africa. A drought that hit East Africa in 2011 exposed this difficulty as European markets had plentiful supplies of African agricultural exports. In fact, the EU imports 40% of Sub-Saharan Africa’s agricultural exports. 

The south-north food flow has created willing foreign markets for African farmers, while home-grown goods aren’t getting to other Africans who are surviving on international relief aid flown in during food shortages. Experts point to the fact that it is easier to fly or ship African goods to Europe than to trade regionally due to poor transportation connections, high tariffs, security barriers and primitive information-sharing on market needs.

With nearly half of the more than 800 million Sub-Saharan Africans living below the UN’s poverty line of less than $1.25 per day, farming is seen as a way to create jobs, feed a growing population, while also providing lucrative exports of food and biofuel crops. When you factor in the uncertainty that climate change brings toward agriculture, however, there is great debate about how to achieve economic development and regional food security.

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Africa

The 54 countries in Africa – from the dry northern African nations, through those in deserts and rainforests, all the way to the temperate parts of South Africa – are hugely varied in their ethnic, cultural, climatic, geographic, and economic aspects. The continent’s population of over a billion inhabitants, with a median age of 19.7 years, is the youngest in the world. Due to both its localised epidemics of hunger and its huge untapped agricultural potential, Sub-Saharan Africa specifically is a key focus area for many NGOs and development agencies interested in food production and security.

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