Youth and the challenges of foodsecurity in AfricaKatindi Sivi NjonjoOn behalf of Dr. Cream Wright
1. The food concept• Food is interpreted more broadly as:- routinely consumed traditional/local foods(staples)- modern/foreign” foods imported and consumedin Africa- food produced in Africa mainly for export- foods not produced or consumed in Africa.• The food concept should beyond what isproduced and consumed• Food is whatever provides good nutrition
2. Food security concept• Food security is conceived as entailing more than foodproduction. It is also about:- Available choices based on nutritionaldiversity, flexibility, and substitution.- Accessibility in the right quantities, to the rightpopulations, at the right time.- Embracing many inter-related occupations that help tomake nutritious foods available on an affordable andsustainable basis.• It is therefore significantly about activities in a complexnetwork/chain of occupations that influencesustainable access to food.
Food productionSubsistence farming• Food production in Africa depends on smallholderfarmers engaged in subsistence agriculture.• This pattern of smallholder farming is regarded asprimitive and routinely criticized as the main reason forfood insecurity• It has proven problematic to significantly shift foodproduction in Africa from smallholders to large scalecommercial farming.• It may therefore be prudent to embrace the reality ofsmallholder production, rather than continue to treat itas a weakness that must be changed.• IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development)has argued that smallholders can feed the world
Inequality• Typically smallholders are rural folks without a high level of formaleducation, but who have access to land and have mastered thepractices of traditional farming.• The educated population in Africa is engaged with food mainly interms of making policy, providing technical advice, dealing withexport marketing and consuming.• This has created imbalances and between those who produce foodon the one hand, and those who make policy, provide inputs orconsume and trade in food on the other hand.• To build on smallholder production Africa needs to redress theseimbalances and inequalities that influence the role of variouspopulation groups in enhancing food security.Poverty• Subsidized inputs, technical support and higher producer prices arenecessary but not sufficient to transform smallholder farmers frompoverty.• This is one reason why poor rural households invest in the educationof their children; so they can escape smallholder food production inits current unattractive state.
Consumption and nutrition• The African food and nutrition basket is sizeable and richly varied. Thissuggests potential flexibility in what Africans can eat, so food shortagescan be mitigated through choice and substitution.• Although there is an abundant variety of edible nutrition resources, Africahas confined itself to consuming a relatively narrow range of foods.• “Trend-setters” influence tastes and consumer habitsMix and match• African countries need to balance food exports, which are critical for GDPand foreign exchange earnings; with food production for localconsumption, which is essential for national development.• It requires “smart producers” who can mix-and-match what they produceor switch between food for export and food for the local market.• With appropriate education and training such “smart producers” can makethis into a systematic process to address food security, in line with globaland local market trends and other factors such as incentives to producestaples.
Food wastage• In African countries, wastage happens mainly at theproduction stage due to inefficient crop protectionand poor harvesting practices• African countries need to prepare successive cohortsof educated and trained food producers with theright knowledge, skills, attitudes and values totransform the smallholder landscape.
Food Processing/Preservation/StorageFood wastage• A major concern for food security is food loss or wastage at various stagesfrom production to consumption. A recent study estimates that globallybetween 30% and 50% of the four billion metric tonnes of food producedannually is wasted and not consumed• In the developed world wastage tends to be at the post-production stage(points of sale and households) due to standards about freshness and expirydates, as well as affluent consumption patterns.• In Africa, there is lack of adequate means of processing, preserving andstoring the food that is produced. Methods of processing, preserving andstoring food are still largely based on traditional practices rather thanmodern scientific processes, which reduces the post-harvest life of perishablefoods.• This requires investment to prepare a new breed of practitioners, who willresearch, adapt and apply such modern techniques and practices to foodprocessing, preservation and storage.
Food Packaging/Transporting/Distributing• As part of food security, packaging not only helps to protect andpreserve food but also makes it easier to handle, transport andstore food efficiently.• It also has the potential to present food in an attractive way toconsumers, as well as to convey nutrition information and otherdata to support decisions on purchasing and consuming the rightfood products.• Similarly the quality of transport and other trade-relatedinfrastructure is critical for local food security as well as for theexport of food commodities and agricultural trade performance.• This requires investment to prepare a new breed ofpractitioners, who will play the vital function
Food Pricing/Marketing• A growing paradox about food pricing in Africa is that it can becheaper and more reliable to buy imported food products ratherthan locally produced food.• Frozen chicken imported from Europe is more readily available andcheaper in many West African countries, than chicken from localpoultry farms. But African poultry farms may be able to exploit theorganic label or other niche categories that can help withdifferential pricing for the local market or for export.• There is also scope to develop ostrich farming or livestock in sheepand goats, to provide for meat consumption in the African marketin a way that can compete with subsidized imports.• It will take empowered practitioners to engage in the best forms ofproduction to deal with this issue of differential pricing andaffordability of locally produced food in the local market.
Food Preparation/Consumption• An inordinate amount of time is spent on food preparation in Africa, which is aconstraint on the productive time and quality of life experiences of women andgirls particularly.• Most foods purchased by households are in a natural or as-harvested state,with little pre-processing that would reduce the time spent on preparing andserving food.• Some progress is being made with the involvement of external food giants(Cadbury and “Poundo Yam” in Nigeria) as well as with increasing use oftechnology to enhance traditional processing practices (processing cassavainto “gari” in West Africa).• Much more work needs to be done on pre-processing of foods (vegetables,fish, meats, cereals, etc.), so the preparation time required before cooking andserving is optimized.• This is also about making sure the nutrients of the food concerned are notcompromised as a result of pre-processing.• There are opportunities to enhance the nutritional value of foods withadditives that can be introduced during the pre-processing stage.
Nutrition/Health Aspects• Food is a source of essential nutrition for ahealthy and satisfying lifestyle.• This dimension of the food equation is gainingimportance and influencing consumer choicesthroughout the world, as well as pricingpolicies.• Empowered practitioners in Africa can findways to exploit this new reality to benefithome consumption as well as exports.
Conclusion• The message from analysis of these food-relatedoccupations is that Africa needs “new breed”practitioners to transform food security on thecontinent.• Production cannot continue to depend on ageing anddisadvantaged rural households with farmers who havenot had the benefit of appropriate education andtraining.• The continent cannot continue to importprocessed/preserved foods, whilst local foods perishfor lack of modern processing and preservation. Thereneeds to be a succession of youths to explore moderntechniques and combine them with traditionalpractices to process and preserve food for longermarket life and to avoid wastage.
3. Asset vs. deficit model• Third, whilst acknowledging weaknesses and threats(deficits) that affect food security in Africa, the focus is onthe strengths and opportunities (assets) that Africancountries can harness and exploit to promote food security.• The main concerns then are: what advantages does Africahave? How can these be utilized? What are thepolicies, strategies and investments that can best supportor facilitate successful implementation?• Africa is estimated to encompass fifty percent of theworld’s agricultural land. It has enough water, and favorableclimates to feed itself
5. Talent academies• “Talent Academies” with appropriatecontent, pedagogy, mentoring, and the type ofgovernance that will support learners to acquire newknowledge, skills and attitudes in food security.• Paper argues that there is a need to cultivate a newbreed of young food practitioners for sustainableprogress.• paper further explores new “education and trainingpathways” for youths to acquire and use theknowledge, skills, attitudes and resources needed totransform food security in Africa.• “human resource” changes are critical for success.
1. First there is the Selection Principle, which stipulatesthat young people are selected into a Talent Academybased strictly on their talent (proven or latent) in thebroad field2. Second is the Aspiration Principle, which makes clearthat the “sky is the limit” for the young people enrolledin the TA. This is not about training young people forspecific and circumscribed jobs, as is the case withTVET institutions.3. Third there is the Compensation Principle, throughwhich young people receive lessons to compensate forthose basic knowledge and skills that are essential pre-requisites for successful learning in the TA, but whichthey may not have acquired earlier.
Guidelines on Planning Food-Related TalentAcademies:1. Should preferably be established on a regionalbasis (ECOWAS, SADC, EAC)2. Integrate a combination of students withinterests in a range of food-related occupations.This will encourage cross-fertilization ofideas, exchange of skills and sharing ofexperiences relating to all stages of the foodsecurity chain.3. Practical centers in order to facilitate the hands-on practice aspect of their learning-and-practicefocus.4. Talent Academies should have “IncubationHubs” for graduating students who wish to
5 . Pedagogy in these talent academies should be geared to:- finding out what already exists and how it can be adapted tothe African context;- Investigating local and traditional practices with a view toupgrading and enhancing them;- Developing basic skills and competencies in a variety ofoccupation-related activities along the food security chain;- Developing knowledge and skills relating to the science,technology, economics, marketing and ethics of the foodbusiness in Africa;6. Using a modular structure and integrated or inter-disciplinarycurriculum content.7. Invest in key innovations from the talent academies…alsoinvest proper design and operation of the initial institutions.
Demographics• Sub Saharan Africa has the world’s fastest growing populationand the youngest.• By 2050 the subcontinent, with its projected 1.7 billionpeople, will be the second most populous region in theworld, after South Asia, and the only region in which the ruralpopulation will still be growing.• Between 2010 and 2050 other regions will experience asignificant decrease in rural population (which will fall by 50percent in East Asia, 45 percent in Europe, and 10 percent inSouth Asia), while Africa south of the Sahara will add anestimated 150 million people in rural areas (an increase ofnearly 30 percent).
Labour• The young people yet to be born are in additionto the 330 million already present and about toenter the labor force, of whom 195 million live inrural areas.• The nexus between the youth dividend has theagriculture has the potential to give food securityto AfricaReproduction• Majority of the population are at the peak oftheir reproduction. 15-29 year olds areresponsible for about 70% of the children bornevery year in Africa (many of whom are notplanned for). The reproductive choices this youthmake will be critical to food security
Increase in population density• Population increase will inevitably increase the population densitythus encroaching on farm land and increasing food insecurity• Population increase also put pressure on land which affects foodproduction• A high population will also increase the demand for natural resourcessuch as water and land thus aggravating food insecurity and increasingresource conflicts• Land subdivision into even smaller portions
Youth aspirations• Get rich quick – I would rather live a good short life than a long miserablelife ..can agriculture make me money especially because it is associatedwith dirt, poverty and lack of dignity• Live in cities – westernization and colonization of the mindCoffee farms turned into real estate e.g. Tatu & Thika Greens• To work in manufacturing and in the service industries which have lowabsorption capacities.• Agriculture taken up by older youth as the last option (as we wait for betteropportunities to show up). USAID fund• Education – Agriculture is relegated to these so-called “vocational”occupations which are perceived as a programme for failures . Africa cannotseriously address food security through the efforts of reluctant producers.• Agric scrapped from high school…….potential farmers do not really knowhow to start
Time poor• The patience to wait for food to grow is not thereLand ownership• Inheritance of land,• The value of land (unimportant)Access to capitalization• Security, perception of loans, non repayment• YEDP, USAIDTechnology• Youth leading inventions useful or farming but in Africa. ‘I cow’• Research and innovation is underfunded and failure to invest inscience and technology risks uncompetitiveness in the globalmarket, and unable to feed their populations.Food pricing• High food prices are forcing youth to choose what is affordable
In-virtoInsectsFood pills• Food among youth not about Nutrition. Obesity is a “guilt-bug”that infects excessive consumption, greed and glutton on the partof the rising middle class in Africa as they adopt unhealthy “fastfood” habits.• This should inform what we should be growing now… maize is thestaple food for Africans but will it be in the next 10-20 years?Trend: How will the next dinner plate look like
Conclusions• There is a need for more innovative andyouth-centered approaches to promote andsustain food security.Thank You!