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August 21, 2013

UN: One Quarter of Africa’s Population Sleeps Hungry

by Mohammed Yusuf

African experts, farmers and stakeholders have completed two days of discussion about ways to feed the continent's growing population and combat climate change.  The conference comes as the latest U.N. figures show a quarter of Africa’s population sleeps hungry.

According to United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), 200 million Africans go to bed hungry, 23 percent of the population.  This year’s Food Security Index shows eight out of 10 of the most food insecure countries are in Africa.

U.N. Climate Change Coordinator for Africa Richard Munang said there was a need to increase food production to feed the population without exerting pressure on the continent's ecosystem.

“With all this increasing population associated with challenges like ecological degradation, climate change and increase in population, it is vital to be able to look into how we can be able to feed the population, especially [the] African population, within the same planetary brandish without destroying our ecosystems, our forests, our rivers, our seas that provide food,” he said.

One Africa group negotiator in the meeting, Emmanuel Dlamini, noted climate change would be there to stay, but African government and farmers had to look for ways to adopt.

“In the negotiation, we trying to make sure such eco-base systems for food security there are available means for the countries to adopt,” said Dlamini.

Most of the African countries depend on rain to prepare their farmland and to start growing crops.  For the past couple of years, several countries have been hit by drought, making their populations depend on food aid.

African farmers complain that unpredictable rain these days, and rising temperatures because of climate change, create an environment for crop diseases that affects production.

Nestle Africa representative Hans Johr noted farmers needed assistance from food processing companies and non-governmental organizations to cope up with challenges.

“There is this challenge of climate change, and that is just now adding up a new dimension to the way we are interacting with our suppliers, but once again talking our suppliers these are farmers, these are mid-sizes, but a lot of small holders they need to be trained to really understand and to cope up with these changes,” he said.

The event organizers and participants have called for joint efforts from the international community, governments and farmers to work together to increase food production and also integrate food security and sustainable agriculture into continental and international policies.