News / Africa

Small-Holder Farmers in Africa Are Key to Food Sustainability

Multimedia

Audio
Kim Lewis
World leaders are set to assemble in Northern Ireland next month for the 39th G-8 summit.  Food security is expected to be one of the topics high on the agenda.  Two new agricultural reports released ahead of the conference look at some of the food security challenges experienced by Africa’s small farmers.

The studies are published by Agriculture for Impact, an independent advocacy initiative based at the Centre for Environment Policy at Imperial College London.   The reports are based on findings from case-studies in Africa.   One of the participants of the studies is Andrew Emott, senior manager of Twin Trading of London.  Emott will also be one of the presenters for the food security studies at the G8 summit. 

He said a major issue involving food security, but which hasn’t received as much attention as droughts and floods, is food waste.

“Estimates say that between 35 and 50 percent of food is wasted because of poor storage, and that also affects food safety. So not only are people food insecure, but, they are potentially eating food that is not safe, that we wouldn’t consider safe to eat,” explained Emott.

One of the key challenges that small-holder farmers face involves food storage.

“Many farmers don’t sell into formal value chains, and they don’t have the infrastructure needed to look after their crops that they produce.  So, the drying of the crops is not very good, and as a consequence, farmers tend to sell their crops early when prices are low, and when they need food later on in the year, they’ll buy back when the prices are high,” Emott pointed out. 

He also said that studies on groundnuts in Malawi identified food safety as a key problem, and farmers are starting to recognize that the public health of their communities is affected.

One major threat that occurs when it comes to improperly stored food is the development of mold and a contaminant called aflatoxin.

“The Centers for Disease Control estimates that there are over 4.5 billion people chronically exposed to aflatoxin, and there is an urgent need to address this huge public health issue,” said Emott.  He also noted, “aflatoxin is one of the major causes of liver cancer around the world. It contributes to under-nutrition so its affects childhood stunting, and in fact that can last three or four generations. 

He said the mold is also an immunosuppressant and therefore can be implicated in a number of other diseases affecting people who eat food that was poorly stored.

In order to tackle this huge health threat and other challenges of food waste, Emott said there needs to be a broad consensus that food safety is a key component of food security. 

He hopes international leaders at the G8 summit will take the issue seriously enough to support some of the simple solutions that are readily available now for drying and storing food in smallholder communities.  Also, he said the funding for these solutions should come through agribusiness value chains as a public health intervention.

“The way that we see it is that food safety should be treated in the same way as safe water,” said Emott.

He added that while the focus has been on investing in boreholes and wells,  there should also be more attention paid to small scale storage and drying and primary processing of small-holder farmers’ crops.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More