In order to feed a population of 2.4 billion in 2050, Africa will need a new vision for agriculture, one that would enhance food security, environmental sustainability, and economic opportunity through agriculture.
Food security, in particular, has been one of the top targets in the Millennium Development Goals. Africa has made some progress in reducing hunger over the last two decades and its Global Hunger Index (GHI) is now lower than South Asia’s. Since 1990, six countries (Ghana, Angola, Malawi, Rwanda, Mali, and Niger) have reduced their GHI scores by 50 percent or more, nineteen have made modest progress by reducing hunger between 25 and 49.9 percent, and another nineteen reduced hunger by 0.0 to 19.9 percent.
Three countries (Burundi, Swaziland, and Comoros) experienced setbacks. While Africa still has the highest prevalence of undernourishment, it has declined from 27.3 percent to 21.2 percent over the last 20 years. Despite past progress, Africa still imports roughly USD 80 billion in foodstuffs and large segments of Africa’s population still suffer from chronic hunger.
According to new estimates, about 226 million people—around one in four people—in Africa in 2010-2013 did not consume enough food on a regular basis to cover their minimum dietary energy requirements. Political unrest and food price volatility pose as major challenges for Africa’s smallholder farmers and poor consumers, as food accounts for a large share of farmers’ incomes and poor consumers’ budgets.
Low productivity arising from low-input use, land degradation (such as soil erosion in Lesotho), lack of water storage capacities, poor infrastructure, climate change (drought, especially in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel), among other issues, ultimately lead to declining rural incomes and affect the ability of rural households to feed themselves.
The seriousness of food insecurity has led some countries, including Burkina Faso, Chad, the Central African Republic, Gambia, Niger, Mali, Togo, and Tanzania, to declare national emergencies and accelerate priority action plans. These actions have started mobilizing global support, partnerships, and resources and strengthening the coordination of development management. Successful advancement will be defined by the quality of growth and by ensuring that progress is sustainable.