More than 243 million people in Africa are undernourished, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO).
Hunger and food insecurity are caused by factors like conflict, poverty, climate and weather, lack of investment in agriculture, and unstable markets.
But one Kenyan scientist has found a possible solution. Dennis Rangi, director general of the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI), called on African governments to boost food safety by strengthening sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) processes.
These are essentially measures taken to make sure that food is safe to eat.
This is done by regulating where and how goods are produced, for instance requiring products to come from a disease-free area, inspecting products, specific treatment or processing of products, setting of allowable maximum levels of pesticide residues, or only permitting the use of particular additives in food.
Rangi said these processes are able to improve food value chain and trade links on the continent — and expanded on how this could actually mean a wider solution to hunger and poor nutrition too.
"This is the only way that we can help improve plant health and food safety on the continent," Rangi said, ahead of the CABI African member governments' meeting taking place in Botswana at the end of February. CABI works to improve by lives by solving problems in the agricultural environment.
Rangi said strict adherence to international SPS standards will ensure the production, processing, and trade of safe and high-quality food products.
This will in turn increase agricultural productivity, diversify rural economies, and increase household incomes.
Goal No.2 of the UN’s Global Goals — 17 goals that work together to end extreme poverty — is aimed at ending hunger through food security, improved nutrition, and sustainable agriculture. Target 2.2 of the goal aims to end all forms of malnutrition, which causes stunting.
Stunting essentially means that children don’t develop properly both physically and mentally, as a result of malnutrition in their early years. In Africa, the FAO estimates the prevalence of stunting to be about 7%.
Rangi said African countries aren’t able to address food insecurity due to lack of information, knowledge, and institutional capacity.