Saturday, July 22, 2006

Zimbabwe: Population and food

"....It is important to note that food supply is a national priority attainable either by intensifying crop production or by increasing the area of land under cultivation.

Experts assert that agriculture is a contentious issue in that Africa now needs more than 20 million tonnes of grain each year. This surpasses the current production.

With the population growing at more than three percent per year in many African countries and agricultural production increasing by a lower percentage, the deficit will continuously increase.

Thus, the pertinent question is how African producers can narrow the gap between supply of grains and other staple foods in light of rising demand....

In the past, food shortages have been bridged to some extent, by purchases and by food aid. However, neither of these options will offer adequate relief in the future....

Despite prevailing low productivity, environmental degradation and urban migration, Africa's situation, though desperate, is by no means hopeless, planners claim.

However, in order to institute further improvements to arrest and maintain balances between population growth and food security, experts note that rapid but measured action is undoubtedly called for in terms of policy changes.

According to experts, these policy changes should prioritise rural development like what Zimbabwe has embarked on. With that, more emphasis should be put on production, processing and marketing of food products.

There is no denying that the rate of increase in population in Africa is among the highest in the world and many see this as a fundamental contributor to under-development.

However, experts say there are many examples worldwide where increased population has made possible increased production.

At the time of the International Conference on Population and Development, held in Cairo in 1994, one delegate wrote: "Each new mouth comes attached to two useful hands and a brain, by which more food can be produced.".....

What is often lacking are the financial resources and the political commitment to prioritise the rural community in national development...."

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