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Solving food security in Africa with technology

In the mid-1970s, during the World Food Conference, the phrase “food security” was coined. 
 
“Food security comprises all people having physical, social, and economic access to enough, secure, and nutritious food that suits their food choices and dietary needs for an active and healthy life at all times,” – United Nations Committee on World Food Security.
Despite the globe containing more than enough food for everyone, the number of people suffering from hunger in Sub-Saharan Africa is predicted to be 239 million, with this number likely to rise shortly while on a worldwide scale, a child dies of hunger every five seconds.
 
Ban Ki-moon, the former UN Secretary-General, told global leaders that one billion people are hungry, six million children die daily due to starvation, with 17,000 dying every day. He explained that by 2050, the world would need to feed an extra two million people, bringing the total population to 9.1 billion.
 
Late Kenneth Dahlberg highlighted four worldwide challenges that have serious consequences for food security. The first is an impending population explosion of humans, animals, and plants. Second, global warming. Third is the loss of biodiversity, and the final one is the menace of poverty and globalization of injustice.

 

 

Four (4) components of food security have been identified as follows:

National Availability: It refers to the amount of food that is physically accessible in a certain region or location. Local production, imports, stock levels, and net trade-in food goods determine food availability.

 

Household Accessibility: This refers to all individuals having economic, social, and physical access to food at all times. The availability of sufficient food at the regional, national, or international level does not indicate that it is also available at the home level. It must be readily available and economical in the local area.

 

Individual Utilization refers to how the body uses and benefits from diverse food ingredients. Food quality, nutritional values, cooking technique, storage, and eating schedule all influence utilization.

 

Stability relates to the consistency with which food is available, accessible, and used through time. Even if a person has adequate access to high-quality food today, he has still deemed food insecure if he has periodic insufficient access to food, causing his nutritional status to degrade.

 

Food insecurity has become a chronic issue in many African countries due to the following factors: (1) political instability and crises; (2) short or long civil wars and conflicts; (3) institutional corruption; (4) misdirected economic policies and mismanagement; (5) lack of committed political leadership; and (6) neglect of farmers; and (7) lack of clear financial and economic investment into the agricultural sector.

 

Technology is a general term that describes procedures, skills, methods and techniques used to produce goods in various industries. The technology required to achieve food security varies from country to country. Technology is a crucial factor today, and its application in agriculture is even more critical in minimizing disease-related crop losses, extending market access, and achieving optimal pricing for agricultural inputs, services, and output. Agriculture’s use of technology may help increase crop output and develop more resistant varieties, ensuring that farmers get a good investment return.

 

 

Here are some of the ways Technology can help in solving Food Security in Africa: 

 

Water Storage Technologies

Storage provides more water while it is abundant and makes it accessible for consumption when there is scarcity. Water Storage Technologies may address water scarcity in Sub-Saharan Africa through efficient irrigation methods, water harvesting, and conservation practices.
 
 

Examples of Water Storage Technologies include:

 
A.   Subsurface Water Technology: The liquid water found below the ground surface, including soil water above the water table, but does not include water chemically bound to minerals or organic matter.
 
B.    Aquifers: The term refers to a body of permeable rock or silt saturated with groundwater. Groundwater enters an aquifer when precipitation penetrates the ground. The aquifer and the surface can pass through springs and wells.
 
C.   Natural Wetlands: These are water-saturated environments that provide habitat for aquatic plants and support the formation of hydric (wetland) soils. Marshes, swamps, wooded wetlands, bogs, wet meadows, and coastal wetlands like mangroves are all examples of wetlands. Wetlands’ capacity to hold huge amounts of water and release it slowly makes them useful for combating extreme weather conditions like flood management and drought mitigation, which are becoming more common due to climate change. Wetlands also aid in water purification, control, biodiversity, beauty, and enjoyment.
Other options include tanks and low-cost plastic water tanks, and reservoirs. Storage can also be employed to balance supply and demand over significantly shorter periods, like holding water from the river flows at night and making it accessible to farmers during the day.

 

Wastewater Reuse

This is the process of turning wastewater into water that may be reused for other uses, known as water reclamation. Irrigating gardens and agricultural areas, as well as replenishing surface and groundwater, are examples of waste reuse.

 

Conservation Agriculture

This entails little mechanical soil disturbance, permanent soil cover with living or dead plant material, and crop diversity through rotation or intercropping. It helps farmers maintain and increase yields and profits while simultaneously repairing land degradation, protecting the environment, and responding to the growing challenges posed by climate change.

 

Indoor Farming

As the name implies, it is a method of farming that allows for the development of a wide variety of crops, such as leafy vegetables, herbs, fruits, and flowers, totally indoors. It can produce crops all year. Indoor vertical farming systems provide organic food that is agrochemical-free.

 

Greenhouse Technology

It is a building with walls and a roof, mostly constructed with transparent material, such as glass, in which plants that require controlled climatic conditions are grown. This method is used to cultivate plants in a favourable environment. It also protects plants from harsh climatic conditions such as wind, cold, precipitation, extreme heat, insects, and diseases.

 

Agriculture Robotic Technologies

An agricultural robot is a machine used in agriculture. Some emerging agricultural uses for robots or drones include weed management, cloud seeding, seed planting, harvesting, environmental monitoring, and soil analysis. Read more on Agricultural Robotic and Drone Technology here.

 

Food Preservation Technologies

These include some technologies that help to limit the growth of germs like yeasts (although other methods work by adding harmless bacteria or fungus to the food) and reduce the oxidation of lipids that produce rancidity. Food waste may be decreased by preserving food, an integral approach to lower production costs and enhance food system efficiency, improving food security and nutrition, and contributing to environmental sustainability.

 

In as much as having these technologies does not guarantee total eradication of hunger that hunger. However, the purpose is to make all of these tools more widely available while also ensuring that they suit the needs of the farmers who use them. The effectiveness and impact of these tools and programs should be tracked and assessed, and unsuccessful ones should be modified or replaced.

 

To guarantee that food security is eradicated in Africa, many skilled experts with the necessary skills should be available and used.


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