Re-Claiming Local Foods for Nutritional Security

This Paper have brought the attention of policymakers and researchers in harvesting the potential of Africa center of origin and diversity of plant materials in an effort to more nutrition dense diets available locally and as a future market potential for health diets at global level. To materialize this here Okra is brought as a case example to be discussed. Okra pods are available year round. It is a very healthy green vegetable that contains many important minerals, vitamins, electrolytes and antioxidants which are essential to good health.

Okra (also known as Ladies Fingers, Gombo, Bendi or Gumbo ) is a horticultural crop appears to have originated from Africa, probably somewhere around Ethiopia, and was cultivated by the ancient Egyptians as far back as the 12th century B.C. Okra is a member of the Mallow family, related to cotton, hibiscus, rose of Sharon, and hollyhock. Okra is an important vegetable of the tropical countries and most popular in India, Nigeria, Sudan, Iraq, Pakistan, etc. Though virtually not grown in Europe and North America, lots of people in these countries have started liking this vegetable due to the presence of good amount of vitamins. The plant can be grown throughout the year and resembles cotton in its habit. It is an annual vegetable crop grown in the tropics of the world. It can be grown on all kinds of soils. However, to get the best results, it requires a friable well-manure soil.

Nutritional value

Okra is low in calories and is a good source of many nutrients including vitamin B6 and C, fiber, calcium, and folic acid. Okra is a powerhouse of valuable nutrients. Nearly half of which is soluble fiber in the form of gums and pectin’s. Soluble fiber helps to lower serum cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart disease. The other half is insoluble fiber which helps to keep the intestinal tract healthy decreasing the risk of some forms of cancer, especially colorectal cancer. Nearly 10% of the recommended levels of vitamin B6 and folic acid are also present in a half cup of cooked okra. Like soybean oil, okra seed oil is rich in unsaturated fatty acids (60 to 70%).

  • The fiber content of okra helps in maintaining the health of the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Okra helps to reabsorb water and traps excess cholesterol, metabolic toxins and excess bile in its mucilage and slips it out through stool. Because of the greater percentage of water in the bulk, it prevents constipation, gas and bloating stomach problems.
  • It is very good vegetable for weight loss, as it is a storehouse of health benefits, provided it is cooked on low flame, so that the okra health benefits are retained. This way the invaluable mucilage obtained from okra, is not lost due to high heat.
  • To add volume and bounce to your hair, you can use this hair care tip. Boil horizontally sliced okra, till the brew becomes slimy. Then let it cool, add few drops of lemon to it and use it as a last rinse. This will bring bounce and volume to your hair.
  • The mucilage and fiber present in okra, helps in maintaining blood sugar levels and regulating their absorption in small intestine.
  • Okra facilitates in propagation of good bacteria known as probiotics. These bacteria are similar to the ones proliferated by yogurt in the small intestine, and helps in biosynthesis of vitamin B complex.
  • Protein and oil found in the seeds of okra serves as a good source of high quality vegetable protein. It is rich in amino acids like tryptophan, cysteine and other sulfur amino acids.
  • Okra is a very good laxative, as it helps in treating irritable bowels, healing ulcers and soothing the gastrointestinal track.
  • Okra is good for summer heat and sun stroke treatment.
  • Okra is good for atherosclerosis, and is good for asthma.
  • It can help in prevention of diabetes.
  • Okra Is High In Foliate (Folic Acid) an Important Vitamin for Preventing Birth Defects

Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus), Fresh, raw pods:

Nutrition value per 100 g.  (Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)

Principle Nutrient Value Percentage of RDA
Energy 1.5% 31 Kcal
Carbohydrates 7.03 g 5.4%
Protein 2.0 g 4%
Total Fat 0.1 g 0.5%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 9% 3.2 g
Folates 88 mcg 22%
Niacin 1.000 mg 6%
Pantothenic acid 0.245 mg 5%
Pyridoxine 0.215 mg 16.5%
Riboflavin 0.060 mg 4.5%
Thiamin 0.200 mg 17%
Vitamin C 21.1 mg 36%
Vitamin A 375 IU 12.5%
Vitamin E 0.36 mg 2.5%
Vitamin K 53 mcg 44%
Sodium 8 mg 0.5%
Potassium 303 mg 6%
Calcium 81 mg 8%
Copper 0.094 mg 10%
Iron 0.80 mg 10%
Magnesium 57 mg 14%
Manganese 0.990 mg 43%
Phosphorus 63 mg 9%
Selenium 0.7 mcg 1%
Zinc 0.60 mg 5.5%
Carotene-ß 225 mcg
Crypto-xanthin-ß 0 mcg
Lutein-zeaxanthin 516 mcg

 Research and development focuses on traditional food plants and on essential oils shall be one of the African regional and national agriculture research systems program in addressing the nutritional deficit and for the treatment of life style diseases that are recently become prevalent  in urban parts of the community at global scale. Since food items derived from local plant material have a potential market value, great medicinal value, nutritional dense in micro-nutrients and treating the case of different cancer if they are properly studies, developed and traded.


African Initiatives and Policy Framework for the Right to Food and Food Security: Paper review

The right to food

The right to food is defined by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food (Lidija Knuth and Margret Vidar, 2001.)[1] As the right to have regular, permanent and unrestricted access, either directly or by means of financial purchases, to quantitatively and qualitatively adequate and sufficient food corresponding to the cultural traditions of the people to which the consumer belongs, and which ensures a physical and mental, individual and collective, fulfilling and dignified life free of fear.

The concept of the right to food is not new. The right to food has been formally recognized since the adoption of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Nevertheless in a time of plenty, an estimated 800 million people (Charlotte McClain-Nhlapo, 2004.)[2], primarily in developing countries, are undernourished and food insecure. More disturbingly, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reports that the number of undernourished people in developing countries is no longer falling rather, it is climbing.

Right to adequate food confers an obligation on states to respect, protect, and fulfill that right. This means that states should not adopt measures that could ultimately prevent access to adequate food, that they should adopt measures to ensure that no individuals are deprived of their access to adequate food, and that they should proactively engage in activities to strengthen people’s access to and use of resources, including means to ensure their livelihood and food security. This last obligation can be met through policies and programs such as microcredit, incentives to the private sector to create jobs, and effective implementation of labor laws and agrarian reform that create economic opportunities for those who are vulnerable and food insecure.

Whenever an individual or group is unable, for reasons beyond their control, to obtain adequate food through the means at their disposal, states have the obligation to fulfill that right directly. Importantly, this obligation also applies to persons who are victims of natural or other disasters. In 2004, governments at the FAO adopted a set of ‘Voluntary Guidelines to support the progressive realization of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security’ (FAO, 2005)[3]. These guidelines aim ‘to provide practical guidance to States in their implementation of the progressive realization of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security, in order to achieve the goals of the Plan of Action of the World Food Summit’. Voluntary Guidelines aim to guarantee the availability of food in quantity and quality sufficient to satisfy the dietary needs of individuals; physical and economic accessibility for everyone, including vulnerable groups, to adequate food, free from unsafe substances and acceptable within a given culture; or the means of its procurement.

According to charlotte machlain-nhlapo (2004) [4], the premise of a rights-based approach to ensuring adequate food is empowering poor people and those who are food insecure. Empowerment is integral to any strategy that moves away from the benevolence model of food aid and instead emphasizes enabling environments that support people in feeding themselves. Empowerment also removes the full burden of providing food from states. Nevertheless, as previously stated, in the event that people are unable to feed themselves (because of household shocks or other circumstances), the state must accept the responsibility to assist, whether through social safety nets or other programs and policies that protect vulnerable people from hunger.

According to a currently accepted definition (Lioba Weingärtner, 2004)[5], ‘Food Security’ is achieved when it is ensured that “all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food which meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”. Food is here defined as any substance that people eat and drink to maintain life and growth. As a result, safe and clean water is an essential part of food commodities.

According to FAO (2008) from the above definiton, four main dimensions of food security can be identified:[6]



Food availability addresses the supply side of food security and is determined by the level of food production, stock levels and net trade.


An adequate supply of food at the national or international level does not in itself guarantee household level food security. Concerns about insufficient food access have resulted in a greater

Policy focus on incomes, expenditure, markets and prices in achieving food security objectives.


Utilization is commonly understood as the way the body makes the most of various nutrients in the food. Sufficient energy and nutrient intake by individuals is the result of good care and feeding practices, food preparation, and diversity of the diet and intra-household distribution of food. Combined with good biological utilization of food consumed, this determines the nutritional status of individuals.



Even if your food intake is adequate today, you are still considered to be food insecure if you have inadequate access to food on a periodic basis, risking a deterioration of your nutritional status. Adverse weather conditions, political instability, or economic factors (unemployment, rising food prices) may have an impact on your food security status.


For food security objectives to be realized, all four dimensions must be fulfilled simultaneously. Here it is noteworthy to take in to consideration Food is only one of a whole range of factors which determined why the poor take decisions and spread risk, and how they finely balanced competing interests in order to subsist in the short and longer term (Maxwell and Smith, 1992)[7]. People may choose to go hungry to preserve their assets and future livelihoods. It is misleading to treat food security as a fundamental need, independent of wider livelihood considerations.


Thus, the evolution of the concepts and issues related to household food and nutritional security led to the development of the concept of household livelihood security. The household livelihood security model allows for a broader and more comprehensive understanding of the relationships between the political economy of poverty, malnutrition, and dynamic and complex strategies that the poor use to negotiate survival. The model places particular emphasis on household actions, perceptions and choices; food is understood to be only one of the priorities that people pursue. People are constantly being required to balance food procurement against the satisfaction of other basic material and non-material needs (Maxwell and Frankenberg 1992)[8].

African Initiatives and policy framework for the Right to food and food security


Considering the potential for Agriculture and Natural resources sectors for ensuring food security, the Heads of State and Government of the African Union have adopted various decisions and declarations that makes committing Member States to paying particular attention to the development of the different sub sectors of agriculture (Mme Rosebud  Kurwijila, 2007)[9].  And different initiatives were formulated to work on food security with the given framework.

For the African Union Commission, these actions have been translated into programs through different policy tools and frameworks with the Regional Economic Communities as the building blocks. Without an enabling environment and sound policies to support African regional programs, the Right to Food for most of African people will remain elusive.

Hence the African Union Commission has initiated specific programs to enable Member States to achieve the right to food.  Beside the African union as a main actor in developing initiatives and institute to address a right approach to food and food security in Africa region different intergovernmental and non-governmental initiatives are organized in Africa in the past and to date.

Numerous strategies, policies and programs intended to assist Africa’s development have been conceived and implemented by international body’s regional and national institutions.

On average, a typical developing country in Africa is assisted by about 30 aid institutions to implement these strategies, yet Africa is still far from achieving food and nutrition security. This paper examines to overview those strategies and policies the goal of achieving food security and the right to food.

Historical Development


Since the independent of most of African nations, according to Franz Heidhues  etal (2004)[10] two early responses to African socioeconomic development crises were the Lagos Plan of Action (LPA) and the Regional Food Plan for Africa (AFPLAN). These started from the premise that, given the limited size and capacity of the private sector, the states had to take on the dominant role in development. Thus governments drew up comprehensive five-year plans, invested in large state-run basic industries and market structures, and enacted pervasive regulations to control prices, restrict trade, and allocate credit and foreign exchange, all generally carried out with full donor support. Publicly funded programs in support of agricultural research and extension, fertilizer supply, export production and marketing, and food distribution were the essential components of the approach.

The main focus of the lagos plan of action includes:

Minimizing Food losses: Careful assessment of the extent of food losses; Formulation of’ national policies for food loss reduction; and Construction of appropriate storage processing and other facilities;

Improving Food security: Urgent steps should be taken by every Member State to adopt a coherent national food security policy. National policies must be translated into concrete actions such as early construction of storage facilities, creation of grain reserves, improvement of grain stock management and better forecasting and early warning systems.

Food production: Food development must be promoted in an integrated manner, and should take into consideration the problem of transportation and distribution of farm products at the level of consumers. Food self-sufficiency should take into consideration the nutritional values of foodstuffs and should solve simultaneously the problems of under nutrition and malnutrition.

The set-up of agricultural production should be based on adequate and realistic agrarian reform programs consistent with political and social conditions prevailing in the respective countries. An improved organization of agricultural production must be given priority so as to increase agricultural production and productivity. Beside it gives more focus and investment in agricultural Research and investment

The second set of initiatives were policies based on the neoliberal understanding of economic development held by donors and international institutions (such as the World Bank and IMF) and were commonly referred to as structural adjustment programs (SAPs). These initiatives formed the frameworks within which food and nutrition security programs and strategies were developed in Africa during the past three decades (Franz Heidhues , 2004).

SAPs and neoliberal policies, often called the “Washington Consensus,” provoked considerable debate within development circles.


The Ten reforms that constituted were

  1. fiscal discipline
  2. reordering public expenditure priorities
  3. tax reform
  4. liberalizing interest rates
  5. a competitive exchange rate
  6. trade liberalization
  7. liberalization on inward foreign direct investment
  8. privatization
  9. deregulation

10. property rights

Supporters argued that the reforms they put forward were essential and that reforms should be implemented sooner rather than later. Critics charged that the Washington Consensus paid insufficient attention to the social aspects of development and to the institutional weaknesses of developing countries.

In phases of SAP implementation, the views of strategists began to shift toward a more flexible and gradual approach to budget cutting, largely in response to criticism from African leaders, OAU, ECA, many NGOs, and scholars , with greater tolerance of short-term deficits during stabilization . At the same time, there was increasing recognition of the role governments play in providing the necessary support for education, health, and research and extension, most notably in agriculture, rural credit, and institutional development.


Recent initiatives


In a recent era, agricultural production/food security initiatives are currently underway in Africa: this includes

  1. FAO’s Special Program for Food Security (SPFS)
  2. World Bank’s Africa Region Rural Strategy (ARRS)
  3. Sasakawa–Global 2000 Africa Food Production Initiative[11]
  4. alliance for green revolution in Africa[12]
  5. Comprehensive African agriculture development program of the new partnership for Africa,
  6. African seed and Biotechnology program
  7. Strengthening early warning systems for food security in Africa
  8. Strengthening programs on agricultural health and food safety systems in Africa
  9. Feasibility study for the Common market for basic food products in Africa.

10. Home-grown School feeding program endorsed by the African Union Summit in 2003 in recognition of the right of African citizens to food.

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights has also focused on the issue of the right to food, even though the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights does not explicitly mention the right to food. The commission handed down a decision requiring states to protect and improve existing food sources and to ensure access to adequate food for all citizens (Charlotte McClain – Nhlapo, 2004)[13].

Overview of selected African policy and initiatives

a.    The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program


Within the overall vision of NEPAD[14], the vision for African agriculture should seek to maximize the contribution of Africa’s largest economic sector to achieving the ambition of a self-reliant and productive Africa that can play its full part on the world stage. In essence, agriculture must, within NEPAD, deliver broadly based economic advancement to which other economic sectors, such as petroleum, minerals and tourism, may also contribute significantly, but which they cannot achieve on the mass scale that agriculture has the potential to do.

The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) (NEPAD ,2003)[15] has been endorsed by African Heads of State and Governments as a vision for the restoration of agricultural growth, food security, and rural development in Africa. A specific goal of CAADP is to attain an average annual growth rate of 6 percent in agriculture. To achieve this goal, CAADP aims to stimulate agriculture-led development that eliminates hunger and reduces poverty and food insecurity. More specifically, the NEPAD vision for Africa holds that, by 2015, Africa should:

  • Attain food security;
  • Improve agricultural productivity to attain a 6 percent annual growth rate;
  • Develop dynamic regional and sub-regional agricultural markets;
  • Integrate farmers into a market economy; and
  • Achieve a more equitable distribution of wealth.

CAADP is acted as a strategic framework to guide country development efforts and partnerships in the agricultural sector. CAADP directs investment to four mutually reinforcing and interlinked pillars, each with a Framework that guides policy alignment and suggests actions for countries to consider in designing their CAADP Compacts, policy alignment, program design, investments and monitoring and evaluation post compact. These pillars are

Pillar I’s Framework for Sustainable Land and Water Management seeks to extend the area under sustainable land management and reliable water control systems;

Pillar II’s Framework for Improving Market Access (FIMA) seeks to improve rural infrastructure and trade-related capacities for market access;

Pillar III’s Framework for African Food Security (FAFS) seeks to improve risk management, increase food supply, improve incomes for the poor and reduce hunger and malnutrition; and

Pillar IV’s Framework for African Agricultural Productivity (FAAP) seeks to improve Agricultural research, technology dissemination and adoption through strengthened agricultural knowledge systems to deliver profitable and sustainable technologies that are widely adopted by farmers resulting in sustained agricultural growth.

Areas of Primary Action in CAADP in (NEPAD, 2003)[16] are

The proposed initiatives under the NEPAD Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) focus on investment with areas of primary actions of the four pillars.

  1. Extending the area under sustainable land management and reliable water control systems. Reliance on irregular and unreliable rainfall for agricultural production is a major constraint on crop productivity; rain-fed agriculture is moreover often unable to permit high-yield crop varieties to achieve their full production potential. Accordingly, it is of concern that for Africa the percentage of arable land that is irrigated is 7 percent (barely 3.7 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa) while the corresponding percentages for South America, East and South-East Asia and South Asia are 10 percent, 29 percent and 41 percent respectively. Furthermore, in Africa 16 percent of all soils are classified as having low nutrient reserves while in Asia the equivalent figure is only 4 percent; moreover, fertilizer productivity (expressed in terms of maize yield response) in Africa is estimated at some 36 percent lower than in Asia and 92 percent lower than in developed countries. Building up soil fertility and the moisture holding capacity of agricultural soils and rapidly increasing the area equipped with irrigation, especially small-scale water control, will not only provide farmers with opportunities to raise output on a sustainable basis but also will contribute to the reliability of food supplies.


  1. Improving rural infrastructure and trade-related capacities for market access. Improvements in roads, storage, markets, packaging and handling systems, and input supply networks, are vital to raising the competitiveness of local production vis-à-vis imports and in export markets. Investment in these areas will stimulate the volume of production and trade, thereby assisting to generate an appropriate rate of return on needed investments in ports and airport facilities. In general, Africa urgently needs infrastructure improvements for development, given that it faces the longest distances to the nearest large markets and that a fifth of its population is landlocked. Its rail freight is under 2 percent of the world total, the marine freight capacity is 11 percent (much being foreign owned but registered for convenience in Africa), and air freight is less than 1 percent; similarly, its power generation capacity per capita is less than half of that in either Asia or Latin America. In parallel with improvements in infrastructure within Africa, adjustments are needed in the promotion and support (including subsidy) policies of developed countries. Exporting countries within the region need to raise their capacity to participate in trade negotiations and to meet the increasingly stringent quality requirements of world trade.


  1. Increasing food supply and reducing hunger. Africa currently lags behind all other regions in terms of farm productivity levels, with depressed crop and livestock yields and limited use of irrigation and other inputs. By accessing improved technology – much of which is simple and relatively low in cost – small farmers can play a major role in increasing food availability close to where it is most needed, raising rural incomes and expanding employment opportunities, as well as in contributing to a growth in exports. This requires improved farm support services, pilot projects targeted at poor communities and a supportive policy environment. A sub-component of this pillar is for investment to respond to the growing frequency and severity of disasters and emergencies; it calls for some attention to the fact that rapid humanitarian interventions followed by rehabilitation are required before normal development can resume.



  1. Agricultural research, technology dissemination and adoption. This long-term pillar, which aims at achieving accelerated gains in productivity, will require:


  • An enhanced rate of adoption for the most promising available technologies, to support the immediate expansion of African production through the more efficient linking of research and extension systems to producers;
  • Technology delivery systems that rapidly bring innovations to farmers and agribusinesses, thereby making increased adoption possible, notably through the appropriate use of new information and communication technologies;
  • renewing the ability of agricultural research systems to efficiently and effectively generate and adapt new knowledge and technologies, including biotechnology, to Africa, which are needed to increase output and productivity while conserving the environment; and
  • Mechanisms that reduce the costs and risks of adopting new technologies
  • Countries under the framework of NEPAD / CAADP should Developing an Operational Plan for CAADP

Developing a regional or country-level strategy entails the following 6 steps:

  1. Stocktaking regarding where the region or country is at present regarding CAADP targets;
  2. Estimating the magnitude of change required to achieve the CAADP vision and objectives;
  3. Creating an inventory and identify options to achieve the objectives of the vision;
  4. Prioritizing interventions and costing options to focus on the best returns for an investment plan and addressing the necessary conditions to meet objectives;
  5. Reviewing implementation options, roles, responsibilities and coordination; and
  6. Finalizing and packaging an integrated program that includes an investment and operational plan and institutional arrangements.


b.    Alliance for green revolution in Africa


African is a net importer of food and most of the foods consumed are produced by small holder farmers. To increase the productivity, profitability, and sustainability of these farms, African farmers need greater access to affordable yield-enhancing inputs, including well-adapted seeds and new methods for integrated soil fertility management, as well as to output markets where they can convert surplus production into cash.

According to the evidence from Gary toenniessen et al (2008) to address these needs, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation established the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)[17]. AGRA is now African led and is working within the context of the comprehensive agricultural development program established by Africa’s leaders. From offices in Nairobi, Kenya, and Accra, Ghana, AGRA support work across all key aspects of the African agricultural value chain to help millions of small-scale farmers and their families lift themselves out of poverty and hunger.

Since agriculture is at the center of life and economies in Africa, about 80% of Africans depend on agriculture for their livelihoods with a small farm of less than two hectares per household. The very low productivity of these farms fuels the cycle of poverty and hunger in Africa. At the same time, their potential productivity provides the basis for a fundamental transformation of African agriculture one which would put Africa firmly on the path of priority.

So the alliance for a green revolution in Africa (AGRA) is an African based and African leg organization working with partner to catalyze change that rapidly and sustainably increase the productivity and incomes of smallholder farmers, most of whom are women and achieves food security in Africa.

AGRA drives innovations, funds demonstration, and works with partners and Africa’s farmers to scale up successes in smallholder farming, with a strong focus on staple food crops in high potential breadbasket areas with a goal of catalyzing a uniquely African green revolution (AGRA, 2009)[18].

AGRA works to achieve a more food secure and prosperous Africa through the promotion of rapid, sustainable agricultural growth based on smallholder farmers. Since Small holders produce most of Africa’s food, and do so with minimal resources and little government support. AGRA  strive to ensure that smallholders have what they need to succeed including good seeds and healthy soils , access to market , information , financing , storage and transport , and supportive policies.

To achieve the above goal AGRA[19] put six strategic objectives around which it organizes the overall activities and investments (AGRA, 2011).

  1. Develop technologies to rapidly increase agricultural productivity in environmentally friendly ways
  2. Increase incomes, improve food security and reduce poverty among smallholders’ farmers in Africa in an economically and environmentally sustainable manner.
  3. Develop an evidence based policy environment and incentives system for improving farmers access to new technologies , knowledge and other resources needed to transform smallholder farming with special attention given to women farmers.
  4. Provide a platform for bilateral and multilateral donors, national governments, research entities, farmers’ organizations and others to forge effective alliance for addressing agricultural productivity.
  5. Inspire action by demonstrating what is possible and
  6. Identify and fill critical financing and human resource gaps by mobilizing national and international resources in support of an African green revolution.

Concerning to AGRA policy and partnership program, AGRA does not set policies for African countries. The main goal of AGRA in this aspect is to organize and support appropriate networks to effect change at the national level and support those networks through the best available evidence on which government can base policy decisions.

In the agricultural value chain, several important policy areas require attention, including seed policies, soil health, staple crop market and trade policies, land and property policy rights, environmental and climate change resilience, and access to finance.

According to AGRA’s strategy , its goals between now and 2020 are 50% reduce food insecurity at least in 20 African nations , double the income of 20 million smallholders farmers and put at least 15% nations on track to attain and sustain a green revolution.

AGRA strategies and program are closely aligned with the comprehensive African agriculture development program, developed by the African union new economic partnership for African development, which provides the framework for agricultural renewal in Africa.

AGRA partners with national governments , agricultural research organizations, farmers , the private sectors , financial institutions , universities , civil society , foundations , farmer cooperatives and other rural development stakeholders to engage and empower resources poor farmer in Africa.

Progress in the Implementation of policy and initiatives

and the way forward:


There is a wide recognition that agriculture and rural development must play a central role in economic growth, poverty reduction, and food and nutrition security improvement, as the implication of disinvestment in the sector during the structural adjustment era have become clear.

This recognition is evident in recent intensifying effort at redirecting and committing resources to agriculture and rural development. Prior to the 2003 Maputo declaration, for example, rich countries at the 2002 Monterey conference renewed their pledge to increase their development assistance from 0.2 percent to 0.7 percent of their GDP (Benin ,S, 2010)[20].

Since the 2003 Maputo declaration, the agriculture led approach to Africa development proposed by the head of state has been gaining support at all levels. Culminating in various policies and funding initiatives that support African agriculture and aim to increase food and nutrition security.

So far some African countries have examplifies based on their development track and achieving the NEPAD[21] commitment of 6% of agricultural growth in African member states and 10% of agricultural budget allocation form annual GDP. From the Several countries that have shown increased support for agriculture and reaped the rewards, BURKINA FASO, ETHIOPIA and GHANA demonstrated an averaged 16.9%, 15.2% and 9.1% of public spending on agriculture from 2003 to 2010 respectfully.

Ethiopia’s Agricultural Sector ten-year PIF (2010-2020) provides a strategic framework for the prioritization and planning of investments intended to drive agricultural growth and development in Ethiopia (Nienke beintema and Gert-Jan Stads, 2011)[22]. It outlines and elaborates specific objectives and expected outcomes aimed at attainment of GTP[23] and CAADP goals and targets.

There is some evidence in faces of green revolution in many of farmers, scientists and entrepreneurs who change the landscape of African agriculture with the support of National governments, international community and organizations like AGRA. These is all that can be accomplished when smallholder farmers work with the tools of modern agriculture: robust , high yielding seed , practical integrated soil fertility and water management practices , affordable credit and efficient markets.

In the past efforts, AGRA[24] and other regional initiatives with the CAADP have done some progress in improving food market by building the capacity of agro dealers, improving productivity, train next generation African agricultural researcher and supporting for the preparation of sound policy environment for African development toward achieving food security and the right to food (AGRA, 2010).


The way forward


Several major initiatives in the past few years have brought renewed attention and commitment to economic development and food and nutrition security in Africa. The recent economic recovery and the new commitment to change among African leaders and development partner indicate for the first time after decades that Africa is poised to achieve real progress toward food and nutrition security. Sustaining and accelerating growth to reach the poverty reduction and nutrition millennium development goals will require clear strategies to guide future policy and investment decisions.

Ratification of the comprehensive Africa agricultural development program (CAADP) is a key component of the African union’s new partnership for Africa’s development (NEPAD) by an African head of state and government in 2003 signified their commitment to agriculture led development.

If current economic and agricultural growth trends persist, at least half of all African countries will fail to achieve the millennium development goals (MDGs) set forth by the United Nations in 2000. While a number of African countries are currently undergoing a process of economic recovery, evidence shows that efforts may fail to induce broad based improvement in rural areas, home to majority of poor Africans (IFPRI. 2007)[25].

These demands more vibrant Africa policy framework and initiatives that will shape the overall development efforts made in Africa to make sure to achieve MDG and other commitments to fulfill the right approach to African food security.



This paper is prepared on the objective of taking an overview of African initiatives and policy framework to address the right to food and food security in Africa. In the first part of the document the paper put conceptual definition to the right to food and food security that will be served as a working definition for the next part of the paper.

In the main part of the document historical development of African policy framework and initiatives development are noted since an African independence by the facilitation of African union. At the end of the paper the group selected comprehensive African agriculture development program developed by new partnership for African development of the African union and alliance for a green revolution for detail description to be exemplified as current active African policy framework and initiatives.

Even if food security concept take different forms including food availability, access and utilization (nutrition and sanitation) , this paper give African policy framework and initiatives on focus to food production and productivity with an ultimate goal of  the right to food and food security.


Lidija Knuth and Margret Vidar . 2001. Constitutional and legal protection of the right to food around the world . Food and agriculture organization of the united nation. Rome. Page 10

[2] Charlotte McClain – Nhlapo .2004. Implementing a human rights approach to food security .international food policy research institute.2020 Africa conference brief.13.whashington. 4P

[3] FAO .2005.voluntary guidelines to supports the progressive realizations of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security. Adopted by the 127th Session of the FAO Council November and agriculture of the united nation , rome 2005. P1-14

[4] Charlotte McClain – Nhlapo .2004. Implementing a human rights approach to food security .international food policy research institute.2020 Africa conference brief.13.whashington. P4

[5] Lioba Weingärtner.2004. Food and nutrition security, assessment instruments and intervention strategies. International training course. Page 5

[6] FAO.2008. an Introduction to the Basic Concepts of Food Security .food security information action practical guideline. food and agriculture of the united nation..  P5

[7] Maxwell, S. and M. Smith. 1992. “Household Food Security: A Conceptual Review,” in S. Maxwell and T. Frankenberger (eds) Household food Security: Concepts, Indicators, and Measurements: A Technical Review. New York and Rome. UNICEF and IFAD.

[8] Maxwell, S. and T. Frankenberger. 1992 Household Food Security: Concepts, Indicators and Measurements: A Technical Review. New York and Rome: UNICEF and IFAD.

[9] Mme Rosebud  Kurwijila .2007. statement for World Food Day 2007 Celebration Tijjo Woreda in Asela, Arsi Zone,  Oromia Region, ETHIOPIA 14 October 2007. Commissioner rural economy and agriculture African union commission.

[10] Franz Heidhues  , Achi Atsain ,Hezron Nyangito ,Martine Padilla ,Gérard Ghersi and Jean-Charles Le Vallée.2004. Development strategies and food and nutrition security in Africa. An assessment 2020 discussion. Paper 38. .International Food Policy Research Institute.2033 K Street, NW.Washington, DC 20006–1002 USA.December 2004.P14-20

[11] The Sasakawa–Global 2000 program combined the financial backing of Mr. Sasakawa with agricultural know-how in the form of technical packages comprising manual fertilizer and improved seeds, and then supported their transfer to farmers. It gradually expanded from its original base in Ghana, Sudan, and Zambia to about 12 countries, and is continuing its efforts to develop a technology package that is sufficiently attractive to farmers to achieve a wide impact in Africa.

[12] AGRA was established by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation As an African-led, broad-based partnership dedicated 242 Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences To helping millions of

[13] Charlotte McClain – Nhlapo .2004. Implementing a human rights approach to food security .international food policy research institute.2020 Africa conference brief.13.whashington. p1-4

[14] The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), hitherto known as the New African Initiative, resulted from the merger of the Millennium Partnership for the African Recovery Program (MAP) developed by Presidents Mbeki of South Africa, Obasanjo of Nigeria, Bouteflika of Algeria and Mubarak of Egypt, and the Omega Plan proposed by President Wade of Senegal.

[15] NEPAD.2003.comprehensive Africa agriculture development programs. New partnership for Africa’s development. JULY 2003 .South Africa. P32-45

[16] NEPAD .2003. Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program. New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).  July 2003 page 10-30

[17] gary toenniessen, akinwumi adesina,b and joseph devries.2008.building an alliance for a green revolution in africa.Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. 1136: 233–242.

[18] AGRA. 2009.  Strategy for African revolution, Alliance for a green revolution in Africa. , Nairobi, Kenya. P1-6

[19] AGRA. 2011. Driving real change. AGRA in 2010.  Nairobi , Kenya: Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). P3-8

[20] Benin ,S. ,Kennedy, A. , Lambert,M. ,McBride ,L. 2010. Monitoring African agricultural development process and performance: a comparative analysis.  ReSAKS  (Regional strategic  analysis and knowledge support system ) annual trend and outlook report 2010. International food policy research institute (IFPRI)  p 1-15

[21] Nienke beintema and Gert-Jan Stads. 2011. African agricultural research and development in the new millennium :progress for some , challenges for many. food policy report. International food policy research institute.washington.p3-8

[22] CAADP.2010. CAADP technical review, summary of key finding for Ethiopia, Addis Ababa September 2010. P13

[23]GTP Ethiopian growth and transformation plan

[24]  AGRA. 2010. faces of African’s green revolution.

[25] IFPRI. 2007. Africa strategy toward food and nutrition security in Africa. Research and capacity building. International food policy research institute. Washington.

Can Ethiopia Maintain Its Great Progress Toward Food Security?

Cross-posted from

Nearly 30 years after the 1984 famine that left more than 400,000 people dead, Ethiopia has made significant progress toward food security. Some of these recent successes include a reduction in poverty, an increase in crop yields and availability, and an increase in per capita income—rising in some rural areas by more than 50 percent!

What happened to cause this breakthrough, and what steps does the country need to stay on track?

Food and Agriculture in Ethiopia: Progress and Policy Challenges, a recently released book by IFPRI Senior Researchers Paul Dorosh and Shahidur Rashid, discusses this. According to the authors, one reason for Ethiopia’s recent economic accomplishments is sustained agricultural growth. In the 1990s, agricultural growth averaged nearly 3 percent. In the next decade, it grew to 6.2 percent. Calorie malnourishment—insufficient diets or diets deficient in vitamins and nutrients—fell from 66 percent in 2000 to 46 percent in 2005. Over the same time period, the prevalence of underweight children younger than five years old dropped from 47.2 to 38.4 percent. A permanent shift from an environment prone to severe food crises to a stable and well-nourished one is possible—if the country maintains this agricultural growth.

One measure Ethiopia has already taken is establishing the Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA). As described in an article in IFPRI’s Insights magazine, the ATA combines the “analytical capacity of a research organization with the political and economic power of an implementing organization” to enact policies based on three common factors for success: strong government support, financial support from both government and large-scale donors, and projects that target the day-to-day financial concerns of Ethiopians as well as national economic goals.

According to the book’s authors, Ethiopia’s future is bright—if it takes concrete steps to:

sustain growth in crop and livestock production
increase market efficiency through better roads and wider access to electricity and information
provide effective safety nets to protect the most vulnerable households
maintain stability of the Ethiopian currency, the birr
manage the country’s demographic transition, as people leave rural areas for the cities

Some solutions are straightforward. For example, increased use of fertilizer, irrigation, and improved seeds can improve crop productivity. Fertilizer use was a large factor behind the cereal production increases in the 2000s, but it is still low: less than half of farmers used fertilizer in 2007 and 2008. And further research shows farmers rarely irrigate or use improved seeds. Others, such as achieving sustained macroeconomic stability, are more complicated and require, as do all new solutions, well-researched policies to implement them.

Ethiopia, by many measures, has made great progress since its great famine of 1984. But, say the authors, there is still work to do: namely continuing with thoughtful agricultural policies informed by research that, in turn, will help create a stable, food secure nation.

Scientists Sequence the Wheat Genome in Breakthrough for Global Food Security

ScienceDaily (Nov. 28, 2012) — U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists working as part of an international team have completed a “shotgun sequencing” of the wheat genome, a paper published in the journal Nature reported today. The achievement is expected to increase wheat yields, help feed the world and speed up development of wheat varieties with enhanced nutritional value.

“By unlocking the genetic secrets of wheat, this study and others like it give us the molecular tools necessary to improve wheat traits and allow our farmers to produce yields sufficient to feed growing populations in the United States and overseas,” said Catherine Woteki, USDA’s Chief Scientist and Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics. “Genetics provides us with important methods that not only increase yields, but also address the ever-changing threats agriculture faces from natural pests, crop diseases and changing climates.”

Olin Anderson and Yong Gu, scientists with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) based at the agency’s Western Regional Research Center in Albany, Calif., played instrumental roles in the sequencing effort, along with Naxin Huo, a post-doctoral researcher working in Gu’s laboratory. All three are co-authors of the Nature paper.

ARS is USDA’s principal intramural scientific research agency, and the work supports the USDA goal of ensuring global food security.

As the world’s largest agricultural research institute, USDA is focused on reducing global hunger by increasing global cooperation and collaboration on research strategies and their implementation. For example, through the U.S. government’s Feed the Future initative, USDA and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) are coordinating their research portfolio with ongoing work of other donors, multilateral institutions, and government and non-government entities at the country level to effectively improve agricultural productivity, reduce food insecurity and generate economic opportunity.

Grown on more land area than any other commercial crop, wheat is the world’s most important staple food, and its improvement has vast implications for global food security. The work to complete the shotgun sequencing of the wheat genome will help to improve programs on breeding and adaptation in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa for wheat crops that could be drought tolerant and resistant to weeds, pests and diseases.

ARS is one of nine institutions with researchers who contributed to the study. The lead authors are based in the United Kingdom and were funded by the British-based Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. Funding also was provided by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). NIFA focuses on investing in research, education and extension programs to help solve critical issues impacting people’s daily lives.

The study represents the most detailed examination to date of the DNA that makes up the wheat genome, a crop domesticated thousands of years ago. The wheat genome is five times the size of the human genome, giving it a complexity that makes it difficult to study. The researchers used the whole genome shotgun sequencing approach, which essentially breaks up the genome into smaller, more workable segments for analysis and then pieces them together.

Another international team of scientists is working on a long-term project expected to result in more detailed sequencing results of the wheat genome in the years ahead. But the results published today shed light on wheat’s DNA in a way that will help breeders develop hardier varieties by linking genes to key traits, such as disease resistance and drought tolerance.

Wheat evolved from three ancient grasses, and the ARS team, working closely with partners at University of California, Davis, mapped the genome of one of those three parents, Aegilops tauschii. That mapping, funded in part by the National Science Foundation, was instrumental in the study. It allowed researchers to identify the origins of many of the genes found in modern-day wheat, a key step in linking genes to traits and developing markers for use in breeding new varieties.

Wheat growers face numerous challenges each year. Acidity in the soil can make wheat difficult to grow in some areas. Stem rust, a fungal disease, can wipe out entire crops, and a particularly aggressive form of stem rust has developed the ability to knock out genetic resistance in many popular wheat varieties and is causing major losses overseas.

USDA scientists have conducted similar genomic studies that have helped to increase the productivity of dairy operations, enhance cattle breeding and improve varieties of a number of other crops, including tomatoes, corn and soybeans. In 2010, Anderson and Gu, along with other ARS staff, were part of a team that published a paper in Nature detailing the sequencing of Brachypodium distachyon, a model plant used to study wheat, barley and biofuel crops.

Recent international research collaborations have been critical to meet challenges such as combating wheat rust and increasing wheat productivity, fighting aflatoxin contamination in corn, and sequencing genomes of important crops.

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AAU launches project called CASCAPE to boost agricultural productivity in Ethiopia

The Addis Ababa University (AAU) on Friday launched a project aimed at scaling up agricultural production through research and capacity building. Project National Coordinator, Dr. Eyasu Elias said the project, Capacity Building for Scaling Up Evidence Based Best Practices in Agricultural Production in Ethiopia (CASCAP), will help to disseminate research based best agricultural practices among farmers. According to him, the project will be implemented in the coming five years in 30 selected woredas across the country. Dr. Eyasu said the project is expected to boost productivity per farmer by three fold through disseminating seeds suitable for the respective areas. It will be carried out with an outlay of 11 million Euros assistance from Wageningen University of the Netherlands. Apart from the AAU, the Universities of Hawassa, Jimma, Haromaya, Mekele and Bahir Dar will implement the project. Project Deputy Coordinator, Dr. Degefa Tolossa on his part said the aim of CASCAP is to support the efforts of the government to increase agricultural productivity in a sustainable manner in order to boost agricultural growth and ensure food security. Dr. Degefa said the project links researchers and farmers to seek solution to problems related to agricultural production at community and household level.

Addis Ababa University (AAU) has been added to work in the AGP woredas in the central highlands of Ethiopia (mainly in the Shoa and Arsi zones of Oromiya regional state). The main reason for an additional partner was that some important farming systems (e.g., the teff belt, the maize belt, and the wheat belt) were missing in the previous CASCAPE setup. Currently, AAU has recruited 5 innovators. Organisational set up including the establishment of Steering Committee and signing MoU among partners (i.e., Oromiya Bureau of Agriculture; Oromiya Agricultural research Institute and AAU) is in progress. The Oromiya AGP office has facilitated the selection of 5 intervention woredas for CASCAPE under AAU. These include Munsa of Arsi zone; Chefe Donsa of East Shoa zone, Girar Jarso of North Shoa zone; and Bako woreda of North-west Shoa zone. AAU has agreed to host the national Coordination Unit at its Akakai Campus (College of Development Studies).

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Dr. Eleni Madhin takes Yara award

Dr. Eleni Z. Gabre Madhin, founder and the outgoing CEO of the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX) received the 2012 Yara Prize at the African Green Revolution Forum held at Arusha Tanzania on September 27.

Dr. Eleni was recognized for her visionary leadership in managing the process to establish a market for agricultural produce as the founder and chief Executive of the ECX.
The modern market that became a benchmark for other agriculture trading in other African countries has created a sustainable market system for small-scale farms that were affected by traditional trading systems in the past years.
The Yara Prize is not new for Eleni. The exchange and its founder received several international recognitions and awards in the past years for the achievement since the formation of ECX in 2008.
ECX fosters trading of several agricultural commodities. Coffee, the major export item of the country, sesame, haricot bean, maize and wheat are some of the products trading on exchange, while the facility is still expanding its capacity to include others.
Now that the government of Ethiopia has seen the effectiveness of the electronic market, it is considering undertaking an exchange for other industrial commodities like sugar and leather. The new trading that solves the market risk not only for farmers but buyers and exporters and has registered rapid growth in transaction and trading capacity.
Under Eleni’s leadership, ECX’s growth has seen a strong increase in volumes every year, from trading 138,000 tons in the starting year 2008/2009 to 601,000 tons in 2011/2012. The value of ECX trading reached USD 1.2 billion in 2011/2012, representing almost USD 20 million per day.
With a transparent and efficient market, the share of the final export price for coffee has risen from 38 percent to 65 percent, having a positive impact for 15 million coffee farmers in Ethiopia. At present, 12 percent of ECX membership is made up of farmer cooperatives, representing 2.4 million smallholder farmers.
According to Yara International’s statement, the Yara Prize Committee selected Dr. Eleni and Dr. Agnes Kalibata, Rwandese Minister for Agriculture and Animal resources for their work on ground breaking sectors in the African Green Revolution and contributing to effective public policies to support agricultural development and for profound innovation in agricultural markets.
“Both women leaders have shown that transformation can be achieved in a highly complex and challenging environment, applying innovative approaches and partnering with other stakeholders in new ways,” noted the committee on the statement released in early September.
The Yara prize is based on nominations of candidates, carefully evaluated by the prize committee. The prize consists of a trophy, a certificate and USD 60 thousand which will be shared by the laureates.

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Africa: Rio+20 Must Commit to Transforming the Global Food System


On June 20-22, world leaders and thousands of others from around the globe will gather for the Rio+20 Earth Summit. Their charge is to forge high-level political agreement for how nations of the world will work together to reduce poverty, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection.

Twenty years after the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, the world is confronted by food insecurity and climate change, and sustainable agriculture is more important than ever to addressing these challenges. It is time to find new solutions for how we produce, share and consume the food, fibre and bioenergy that sustains our societies and provides livelihoods.

To be effective, global policy dialogues need a solid scientific evidence basis. This is why the independent Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change was convened in 2011. In March, my Commission colleagues and I released a report, Achieving Food Security in the Face of Climate Change, which proposes specific policy responses to these global challenges and highlights opportunities under the mandates of the Rio+20 Earth Summit, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Group of 20 (G20) nations.

The Commission has also created an animated video to illustrate why and how humanity must transform the way food is produced, distributed and consumed in response to changes in climate, global population, eating patterns and the environment.

The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) has produced a short photofilm that illustrates ways people around the world are already taking actions that align with the Commission’s recommendations.

Over the coming days, venues all over the city of Rio de Janeiro will host a wide range of events that will bring together people working on food security and environmental sustainability. Between June 11-15, I will be joining hundreds of scientists at the ICSU Forum on Science, addressing the issue of “What is the state of the Earth system?”, in which I reiterate the key role of interdisciplinary science and innovation in the transition to sustainable development, a green economy and poverty eradication.

My Commission colleague, Dr Adrian Fernandez, also addresses food security issues during the same event. With partners from the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), he will also be part of an official Rio+20 side event entitled “Feeding the World: Sustainable Agriculture and Innovation” on June 16.

On June 18, the 4th Agriculture and Rural Development Day will focus on “Lessons in Sustainable Landscapes and Livelihoods”. Learning events will explore concrete cases of success that could translate into a thorough transformation of the global food system, and afternoon sessions will focus on science for a food-secure future.

A sustainable food system will only be possible if we make very real progress toward integration of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, supported by robust systems for knowledge generation and extension. This requires changes in policy, finance, agriculture and development aid. Governments, international institutions, investors, agricultural producers, consumers, food companies and researchers all have a role to play. Critical opportunities at the Rio+20 Earth Summit must not be missed.

Dr Carlos Nobre is National Secretary for the Secretariat of Policies and Programmes in Research and Development at Brazil’s Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation. CCAFS is co-organising Agriculture and Rural Development Day on June 18, 2012, ahead of the Rio+20 summit.

Read more at AlertNet Climate, the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s daily news 

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