Food Insecurity in Africa – Professor of Nutrition Ruth Oniyang’o
WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?
Africa is already the most food insecure continent in the world. Acute food insecurity has increased by 60% in the year to February 2021 – largely due to the so-called three Cs – COVID-19, conflict and climate change.
But with Ukraine and Russia supplying millions of tonnes of wheat, maize and sunflower oil to Africa every year so far, many countries – from Egypt to Tanzania, from Kenya to Nigeria – will have to look elsewhere for supplies and find the money to buy them in a world of skyrocketing food prices.
Right here, Professor Ruth Oniyang’o, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development joined The Agenda with Stephen Cole to explain the true global impact of the crisis in Ukraine.
MEET THE EXPERT
Professor Ruth Oniyang’o is the founder and editor of the African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development.
She had a successful academic career, becoming the first professor of nutrition in sub-Saharan Africa and serving in Kenya’s Parliament from 2003 to 2007, where she was Shadow Minister for Education, Science and Technology.
More than three decades ago, she also founded Rural Outreach Africa, to serve small-scale women farmers and help create jobs for young people within the agricultural value chain.
WHAT DOES ONIYANG’O SAY?
Speaking from Nairobi, Professor Oniang’o said: “It is very interesting that when the Russia-Ukraine conflict started, none of us could have ever imagined that it would have an impact on this continent. You know, it’s so far away. But as we know, global trade and interconnectedness meant that those of us who followed these matters knew that sooner or later something would happen. And what I see now what is devastating us is that food prices are rising, which is especially difficult for those who depend on buying food rather than producing their own.”
“Many consumers [in Africa] ask, what does conflict have to do with us? Don’t we produce wheat in Kenya? Professor Oniang’o said, adding: “But then you start to realize that we import a lot of wheat and we import a lot of vegetable oil, which we use to mix it with other foods, which we use as lubricants , which we use in cosmetics and which we use in daily necessities. And this is how now this conflict really affects us. People don’t produce. Trade has been affected. The embargo is on us. So clearly things are likely to get worse for us, especially in the Horn of Africa.”
ALSO ON THE PROGRAM:
– Monika Tothova, economist at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations talks about what the organization is doing to minimize the impact of the conflict in Ukraine on the food supply chain.
– Pekka Pesonen, Secretary General of COPA-COGECA, which represents more than 70 national agricultural organizations across Europe, joins The Agenda to reflect on how fellow farmers can help their Ukrainian counterparts in this time of crisis.
FIND MORE STORIES FROM THE AGENDA WITH STEPHEN COLE HERE