Africa could triple food output quickly: UN

In response to rising food prices, the continent must drop its reliance on food imports and learn to feed itself, said Mafa Chipeta, sub-regional coordinator for the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) in east Africa.

Africa could triple food output quickly: UN
To counter the global food crisis, Africa could triple or quadruple domestic production over two seasons through simple changes to agricultural practices, a United Nations food expert said on Monday.

In response to rising food prices, the continent must drop its reliance on food imports and learn to feed itself, said Mafa Chipeta, sub-regional coordinator for the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) in east Africa.

"Within two seasons we can change (dependence on imports)," he told Reuters on the sidelines of the launch of a regional FAO conference in Nairobi, Kenya. "We can boost production by three or four times by making simple changes."

Governments should reduce fertiliser prices and introduce quality, high-yield seed varieties, he said.

Chipeta also argued more investment in irrigation and dismissed the need for high-tech solutions such as genetically modified organisms.

He said he hoped the week-long conference would produce "actionable decisions" for Africa's agricultural sector which employs about two-thirds of the continent's workforce.

"Africa imports about $25 billion worth of food and receives about a third of the world's food aid," he said. "The food crisis cannot be solved by the continuation of charity."

Opening the conference, Kenya's Agriculture Minister William Ruto said 46 percent of Africans were hungry.

"Agriculture-led development is fundamental to eradicating hunger, reducing poverty, generating economic growth and minimising the burden of food imports while opening the way to expansion of exports and employment opportunities," he said.

Mobido Traore, FAO assistant director general for Africa, said 20 years ago Africa was a net exporter of food.

However, whilst the urban population has expanded as people abandoned rural areas in search of employment, governments have not invested sufficiently in agricultural production and therefore become net food importers, he said.

Reuters
Last Mod: 17 Haziran 2008, 13:55
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