If food be that which contains or consists of essential nutrients and when it is ingested by a human being it facilitates the production of energy, stimulates growth and maintains life. The prevailing paradigm within which issues of food security are discussed in relation to Africa is alarmist and perpetuates myths that have so colonised our minds. Perpetuation of myths diverts attention from the real problems associated with the food security situation of Africa, such as issues related to unequal access, food diversion, wasted consumption and ineffective management of Africa’s food resources. This status quo therefore renders leaders to propose inappropriate solutions whose implementation ends up facilitating the continuance of the problems.
If we argue that rapid population growth in itself is a major factor in contributing to food insecurity, then it would be logical that nations with high population densities should be the ones that are experiencing food insecurity. This is not necessarily the case. The people of Germany with an estimated population density of 230 persons per square kilometre have a life expectancy at birth of 79 years, as compared to those of Uganda with a much lower population density of an estimated 134 persons per square kilometre and yet have a life expectancy at birth of only 53 years.
Comparatively, also, the people of China with a population density of 139 persons per square kilometre, closer to the population density of Uganda, have a much higher life expectancy at birth of 73 years.
If access to food plays a major role in determining longevity in terms of life expectancy, then the question that Africans need to be asking is: what is it that Germany and China are doing to ensure that their respective populations have adequate access to food?
The answer to this question should be a major determinant of Africa’s policies for food security. I suspect highly that the answer to this question will reflect excellent post production food management by both Germany and China. The amount of food wasted in Africa is huge in the process of transportation to markets, during storage, during preparation, during consumption, and that which is diverted for other purposes such as my necklace made out of beans.
There is currently enough food and food producing resource capacity in Africa to feed Africa’s current population. Otherwise, major conglomerates, such as Lonrho, would not be focusing on rebuilding their empires on the basis of African food exports, as it is reportedly then current trend. Additionally, for many African countries food exports dominate their foreign currency earnings. For some African countries, such as Burundi and Malawai, over 80% of their exports come from food.
Ironically, African countries that are exporting food are also the major recipients of relief food aid, which means that scarcity of food in Africa is a myth. Those who are experiencing food insecurity are doing so because of the detrimental effects of our actions on each other as Africans and also the detrimental actions of non-Africans on us Africans.