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

Hostage Crisis Could Divide Japan Over Plans to Boost Military

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday the government is working closely with the Jordanian government to secure the release of remaining Japanese hostage Kenji Goto More

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Country's youngest ever PM Alexis Tsipras, 40, sworn in Monday and says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts More

Multimedia National Geographic Photo Camps Empower Youth

Annual mentoring program's mission is to give young people a voice to tell their own stories through photography More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid