To ease your site search, article categories are at bottom of page.

November 04, 2009

Is the fight against hunger a security issue?

by Howard LaFranchi
Which is more likely to grab and hold attention: third-world hunger or global food security?

Kanayo Nwanze bets the answer is the latter. The Nigerian who recently became president of the United Nations' International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) says globalization has made the hunger and rural poverty that always pulled on the heartstrings an international security issue.

"People now have a clear sense of the linkages between food security and national security," says Dr. Nwanze. That understanding is helping bring questions of hunger and rural development to a broader audience, he says, "as well as to some very high places."

Hunger now can mean increased cross-border and international migration. And the riots that accompanied recent food shortages and price hikes in several parts of the world show how hunger can destabilize governments in regions of critical importance to the international battle against extremism.

That's why issues of rural hunger and food security are increasingly cropping up in venues ranging from the US Congress to the G-8 group of industrialized countries, Nwanze says. It is the emergence of food as an international security issue, Nwanze adds, that raises the odds that the international community will help developing countries come up with sustainable answers to food production challenges.

"Sustainability is determined inside a country, the answers to food production and development have to come from within," says the agronomist who studied in Kansas State University and who is recognized for developing a high-yield, drought-resistant rice for Africa. "But we also need the participation of the broader international community to answer these challenges that today have an impact on everyone."

In Washington recently in advance of this month's World Summit on Food Security in Rome, Nwanze noted that the security dimension of hunger and food production is translating into greater interest in places like the US capital. IFAD, which Nwanze describes as a cooperative among 160 countries that provides grants for rural development projects, benefited from a US-led initiative this year to increase the organization's funding by two-thirds to about $100 million.

At the same time, the US Congress is considering the Global Food Security Act, a five-year authorization that seeks to improve US response to food crises, provide new funding for university research in agriculture and for rural development projects.

In introducing the legislation earlier this year, Sen. Bob Casey (D) of Pennsylvania pointed to Pakistan, where he said nearly half the population is considered "food insecure" and likely to become more so as the military pursues offensives against the Taliban.

"Hunger and competition for food can lead to further instability and potentially undermine government leadership at a very critical time," he said.

Short-term food shortages must be addressed, IFAD's Nwanze says, but his focus appears to be on longer-term finding production and development solutions.

"We need to think beyond production to the means of getting what is produced to the market, and to creating livelihoods," Nwanze says. Thirty years ago, Angola was touted as a food production miracle, only to plunge back to Earth when the increased production failed to spark rural development and farm-to-market infrastructure. The same thing could happen to today's bright spots, he says.

"Today we speak of Malawi and Ghana [other African stand-outs] but where will these same countries be 30 years from now?" Nwanze asks.

Christian Science Monitor

Article Categories

AGRA agribusiness agrochemicals agroforestry aid Algeria aloe vera Angola aquaculture banana barley beans beef bees Benin biodiesel biodiversity biof biofuel biosafety biotechnology Botswana Brazil Burkina Faso Burundi CAADP Cameroon capacity building cashew cassava cattle Central African Republic cereals certification CGIAR Chad China CIMMYT climate change cocoa coffee COMESA commercial farming Congo Republic conservation agriculture cotton cow pea dairy desertification development disease diversification DRCongo drought ECOWAS Egypt Equatorial Guinea Ethiopia EU EUREPGAP events/meetings exports fa fair trade FAO fertilizer finance fisheries floods flowers food security fruit Gabon Gambia gender issues Ghana GM crops grain green revolution groundnuts Guinea Bissau Guinea Conakry HIV/AIDS honey hoodia horticulture ICIPE ICRAF ICRISAT IFAD IITA imports India infrastructure innovation inputs investment irrigation Ivory Coast jatropha kenaf keny Kenya khat land deals land management land reform Lesotho Liberia Libya livestock macadamia Madagascar maize Malawi Mali mango marijuana markets Mauritania Mauritius mechanization millet Morocco Mozambique mushroom Namibia NEPAD Niger Nigeria organic agriculture palm oil pastoralism pea pest control pesticides pineapple plantain policy issues potato poultry processing productivity Project pyrethrum rai rain reforestation research rice rivers rubber Rwanda SADC Sao Tome and Principe seed seeds Senegal sesame Seychelles shea butter Sierra Leone sisal soil erosion soil fertility Somalia sorghum South Africa South Sudan Southern Africa spices standards subsidies Sudan sugar sugar cane sustainable farming Swaziland sweet potato Tanzania tariffs tea tef tobacco Togo tomato trade training Tunisia Uganda UNCTAD urban farming value addition value-addition vanilla vegetables water management weeds West Africa wheat World Bank WTO yam Zambia Zanzibar zero tillage Zimbabwe

  © 2007 Africa News Network design by Ourblogtemplates.com

Back to TOP