The UNDP Africa Human development Report has finally been launched in The Gambia. The report, with the theme 'Towards a Food Security Future' speaks of the disparity between development in Africa and food security. In view of this reality and the current Sahel food crisis, the report recommends for investment in agriculture so that the hungry can be fed.
With reference to the report, it is imperative that stakeholders in Africa's development commit themselves to the sustainable development of the continent and pay greater attention to agriculture with a view to eradicating hunger in the continent.
Statisticsalready reveal that there are more than one billion undernourished people in the world today. That means that nearly one in every seven people on earth don't know where their next meal would come from.
It is also a fact that most of the world's hungry people live in developing nations, while in terms of percentage, sub-Saharan Africa has the highest prevalence of hungry people, with more than one in three people being undernourished. It would also suffice to mention that hunger and malnutrition are the number one risk to health worldwide, even greater than HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.
People go hungry due to various reasons, including natural disasters, conflict, poverty, poor agricultural infrastructure and over-exploitation of the environment etc.The phenomenon of hunger does not only weigh on the individual, it also imposes a crushing economic burden on the developing world as economists estimate that every child whose physical and mental development is stunted by hunger and malnutrition stands to lose 5-10 percent in lifetime earnings.
The report is therefore objective in stating that development in Africa does not go simultaneously with food security. What is henceforth of significance is for greater commitment to be made towards the revitalisation of agriculture everywhere so that the continent can produce enough food to feed its populace and stave off hunger.
It is obvious that agriculture plays a pivotal role in the socio-economic transformation of every society, whether directly or indirectly.The more vibrant the agricultural sector of a society is, the easier it attains development. The sector provides the people with both food and income which are major requirements for social progress.
Here in The Gambia, the back-to-the-land call by the president of the Republic is bearing fruit. From all indications, the massive response of Gambians to that call has put this country on course to attaining food self-sufficiency even though the Sahel crop failure has seriously threatened to compromise that reality.
But this will not deflate our determination to pursue food security.Our country is endowed with vast arable land for agriculture. We also have a youthful populace that has the capacity as well as the potentials to till the land for food production.
More importantly, we have a leader who has the desire to transform this country into an agro-based food self-sufficient nation. Other African countries should use The Gambia as a model so that together we can move towards a food secure future for Africa.