By Fidel Amakye Owusu
1. Earlier this year, I wrote a couple of pieces on Africa’s food crisis and how it could be more serious than it appeared. As usual, some disagreed.
2. Last week’s decision by the federal government of Nigeria to declare a state of emergency on food security has had many Africans wake up to the realisation that the situation is really bad.
3. Yes, food prices have been on the rise since Russia-Ukraine and even before; however, few had thought that the largest economy on the continent with vast arable lands would make such a declaration at this point. 
4. And so what?
5. While the rising food prices were mentioned by the government, the measures proposed rather show a country that is having a deficient agricultural sector.
6. The government promised to use savings from scrapped subsidy—removed recently—to support the sector. In the short term, it ordered the release of fertilizer and seeds to farmers and households.
7. In many countries across the continent, food security is dependent on grains from outside the continent. Billions worth of food are imported to Africa regularly. Much of the value of Africa’s agricultural exports is from non-food commodities. Cocoa, tea, tobacco, cotton, rubber, coffee and other crops cover millions of hectares of fertile lands.
8. Local staples are, therefore, not prioritised, and in many places like Nigeria, left to smallholder farmers who are scarcely supported by the policies the federal government has currently promised to roll out.
9. With the current announcement to the Kremlin that it has ended the grain deal which allowed tons of grain to move from the Black Sea to the rest of the world, especially Africa, the continent’s food security outlook is not encouraging.
10. The journey by some African leaders to Kyiv and Russia has not yielded any intangible result. The grain deal was at the heart of the visit. However, it appears Putin has hedged Crimea’s “security” against the deal. With Ukraine determined to take the peninsula, Africa can only look within for food sufficiency—at least in the medium to long-term
11. Way forward?
12. African political independence, economic transformation and the survival of its youthful population would depend on robust agriculture that has food as an unconditional priority.
13. A continent with a growing youth population is consuming more. That consumption must benefit the respective domestic economies. Food growers must, therefore, be supported to gain from the huge consumption. We must not wait until emergencies.
14. Most importantly, let’s identify our problems so we can effectively tackle them. Identifying your problems is not doom-saying. Doing so and tackling them before they get worse, will make a better Africa.

By Fidel Amakye Owusu – International Relations and Security Analyst and Writer

Article Reproduced with Permission from Fidel Amakye Owusu

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