From 2021 to 2030: How Africa Will Run the Marathon to Realise Zero Hunger

Updated: Jul 29, 2021

According to the data sourced from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the number of people facing hunger throughout the world has declined from 24% in 1990 to about 10%. Under this major premise, many developing countries such as Central and East Asia, Latin America used to suffer from famine and hunger can satisfy their nutritional needs now due to rapid economic growth and enhanced agricultural productivity. Nonetheless, 821 million people are projected to suffer from chronic undernourishment from 2017 onwards resulting from environmental degradation, drought and biodiversity loss. More than 90 million children under 5 years old are seriously underweight. Africa has been identified with the highest prevalence of undernourishment with nearly 21% of the population being impacted. The same phenomenon of undernourishment and severe food insecurity can be observed in South America as well.

Current framework underlined in Agenda 2030 – SDG2: Zero Hunger Challenge

To ensure all people esp. to have sufficient and nutritious food throughout the year, the SDGs were set up to eliminate all kinds of hunger and malnutrition by 2030. The Zero Hunger Challenge (ZHC) launched in 2012 by the United Nations Secretary-General aims to reflect 5 elements from within the SDGs, leading to deep transformations of agriculture & food systems and the establishment of an inclusive, safe, sustainable and resilient society. The 5 elements of ZHC are as follows:

1) All Food Systems are Sustainable: From Production to Consumption

Sustainable food systems aim to deliver food security and nutrition for all. Under this circumstance, basics such as the economic, social and environmental factors will not be compromised while generating food security and nutrition for future generations. Climate change will also urge the use of sustainable and climate-compatible agriculture solutions.

2) An End to Rural Poverty: Double Small-scale Producer Incomes & Productivity

This will require an increase in the income of the small-scale producers with the perseverant enterprise. Those small-scale producers also play a crucial role in coping with the growing global population by sustainable means. To ensure people can be better off, an increase in smallholders’ income, enhancement of productivity and improvement of rural employment should be considered.

3) Adapt All Food Systems to Eliminate Loss or Waste of Food

  • Minimisation of food losses during production, storage and transport, and waste of food by retailers and consumer;

  • Empowerment of consumer choice;

  • Commitments of producers, retailers and consumers in various countries

4) Access Adequate Food and Healthy Diets, for all People, all Year Round

  • Addressing poverty and inequality;

  • Building people’s resilience to shocks and stresses;

  • Accessing to food to fulfil both rights, which namely are equity and women’s rights, and resilience

5) An End to Malnutrition in all its forms

Malnutrition is regarded as both a motive and an outcome of poverty and inequality. Hidden hunger, wasting and stunting can also result from undernutrition, doing harm to individuals and the whole society. To address the above problem, making sure universal access to nutrition in the 1000-day window of opportunity between the start of pregnancy and a child’s second birthday is the key. Meanwhile, a multi-sectoral approach including nutrition-sensitive health care, water, sanitation, education, agriculture, social protection and specific nutrition interventions along with the empowerment of women’s proactivity should be implemented to support the process.

For Africa, the goal of achieving zero hunger is 5 years ahead of the due set by SDG 2, which should be accomplished by 2025. The recent increase in hunger in Africa in 2016 owing to conflict became an obstacle in the way and made Africa off the right track. However, stakeholders getting involved in the FAO Regional Conference for Africa sent out a positive message that the goal can still be feasible.

Adverse weather blurred the fulfilment of Zero Hunger in Africa

A warning that adverse weather could affect food security in Southern Africa in a decade.

Even if rising political will and actions towards agricultural and non-agricultural sectors can enhance the picture of food security in Africa in the long run, short-term prospects need more attention owing to adverse weather conditions in South Africa. FAO issued a Special Alert via its Global Information and Early Warning System of Food and Agriculture (GIEWS) to emphasise the risk of harvest shortfalls in Southern Africa caused by long time rain and high temperature. According to the report, many people are still experiencing the recovery of losses from a drought in 2016 attributable to the El Niño weather phenomenon and hence could be less resilient against food price shocks.

Agribusiness and food opportunities in Africa worth pursuing to narrow the gap

There is no doubt that achieving Zero Hunger by 2025 in Africa will face lots of challenges. However, the gap between the progress made so far and goals set for 2025 can be bridged by seizing the following opportunities.

Growing blueberries in Ethiopia for the export market

In accordance with Nuradin Osman, founder and CEO of Grosso Foods focusing on African agribusiness, Ethiopia should grab one of the biggest agricultural opportunities to cultivate blueberries. The rising global demand for blueberries depicts a huge potential for development attributes to its health benefits. Ethiopian Airlines’ cargo division enables Ethiopia a good spot from which to export blueberries.

Reliable distribution of food ingredients to the restaurant industry

A steady supply chain of food items is very paramount for restaurants to prepare and sell to their customers. Gert Steyn (CEO of South African-based Food Supply Network dealing with the digital marketplace to eliminate inefficiencies in the food supply chain) pointed out that those African countries should put more focus on stock availability and dependability. The essential point is food can arrive timely for each day. Otherwise, the price will be almost irrelevant due to the delays of customers’ food orders. This is precisely what lots of African countries are overlooking. Various reasons behind this can possibly result in this issue whereas distributors can handle the challenge of sending out packages without postponements or errors.

Supply of trustworthy agricultural inputs to Ugandan farmers

The managing partner of Kampala-based Pearl Capital Partners, Dr Edward Isingoma Matsiko who invests in agribusiness firms in East Africa emphasised the importance of agricultural inputs including seeds, fertiliser and pesticides. Fake inputs can be everywhere inevitably. For instance, imported fake fertiliser and chemicals, fake seedlings and so forth can cause damage to vegetation, soil, biodiversity and individuals. Some farmers in Uganda planting avocado seedlings won’t be that lucky if they didn’t test the viability of those plants at the very beginning. In this case, until 4 years later when the time comes to get a harvest, what they are expecting could be huge shortfalls and all their time, energy and money invested may turn out to be in vain. Trustworthy agricultural inputs are the factors of which Ugandan farmers need to raise awareness.


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