Contributing Monkie Sarah Backhouse
Published on January 14, 2009
Whereas rising food prices primarily impact the pocketbook here in the West, in Africa and other parts of the developing world, the consequences could mean the difference between life and death. With ever increasing global population adding even more pressure on already scarce resources, what can be done to avert a worldwide catastrophe?
Former head of the UN, Kofi Annan, advocates change from within to solve Africa’s food crisis. Calling for a “green revolution”, Annan requests support for Africa not with food imports, but by helping farmers provide for themselves via donated seeds and fertilizers. He told the BBC’s World Today program that “a genuinely African green revolution could lead to a doubling or tripling of food production,” adding that by helping them ” all along the value-chain, they are more likely, not only to improve production, but to sustain it.”
Political analyst and deputy chairman of the South African Institute of International Affairs, Moeletsi Mbeki, explains that there are other factors to take into consideration: “The farmers in Africa have no secure property rights; their land doesn’t belong to them [and] can be taken away” at any time. Mr. Mbeki, brother of South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki, adds that Annan’s vision “would only be feasible as long as land ownership and political accountability were addressed at the same time”.
Citing Zimbabwe as a case in point where Mugabe’s government seized land given to farmers, Mbeki says: “We’ve seen the consequences of the farmer not having property rights in the destruction of agriculture in Zimbabwe.” Hopefully with some of the continent’s greatest minds on the case, a solution to the food crisis will be found, and fast.