UN FAO Says Invest More in Agriculture, Not Food Aid, in Africa

Africa agriculture photo

Image: Flickr via Find Your Feet

Luca Alinovi, officer in charge of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization in Somalia, has come out saying that investing in agriculture in Somalia, which for years has suffered one of the world's worst humanitarian crises, is more effective and more sustainable than simply sending food aid.

In a world where the effectiveness, let alone the concept, of food aid is not often questioned, it is refreshing to see such a high level official making such a public statement.
Reuters' AlertNet reports that 2010 marked Somalia's highest level of food production since 2001 because of good rains, and that resulted in a 25 percent drop in the number of Somalis dependent on aid.

Alinovi told AlertNet, "Investing in agriculture pays back. If you put money in agriculture it costs less (than food aid or cash transfers), and it produces an enormous amount of food for people."

The impact is really two-fold, because food costs less, which means more Somalis can buy it (hunger often increases not because food isn't available, but because people can't afford to buy it), but also that farmers earn more money because of increased production and higher sales.

Alinovi called for continued investment in agriculture in Somalia at next year's Consolidated Appeals Process. Despite positive results in sustainable farming elsewhere in Africa, Alinovi's recommendation doesn't seem to be a widespread one yet, but maybe he'll start a trend.

More about sustainable agriculture in Africa
How Organic Agriculture and Sustainable Food Systems Can Feed the World
Conservation Farming, Not Witchcraft, Increases Zambian Farmer's Crop Yield
Conservation Farming: Zambia Sets an Example. Will Other Nations Follow?

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