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

As US Strikes Syria, China Sees Parallels at Home

Beijing is debating how much support to give international coalition against IS militants and trying to figure out how many Chinese nationals may have joined group overseas More

CDC: Ebola Could Infect 1.4 Million by January

US health officials say if efforts to curb the outbreak are not increased, cases will soar dramatically by early next year More

Video USAID Provides $231 Million for Girls Education in 5 Countries

US Agency for International Development partners with celebrities to call attention to importance of education for girls worldwide More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid