Climate change in Agriculture: embark upon the cause and effect for food security and solution to revert the warming world through Adaptation-Mitigation options

Agriculture as a cause of Climate change

According to intergovernmental panel on climate change, Agriculture is one of the world’s largest industries; agricultural land alone covers 40-50% of the world’s land surface. The sector accounts for roughly 14% of global greenhouse gas per year that makes agriculture is a major contributor to climate change (IPCC 2007).

According to the Stern Review, in 2000, about 35% of greenhouse gas emissions came from non-energy emissions: 14% were nitrous oxide and methane from agriculture. Total global greenhouse gas contribution of agriculture from both direct and indirect sources reached up to 32%; the most prominent sources includes: land conversion to agriculture, nitrous oxide released from soils, methane from cattle and enteric fermentation (flatulence-produced methane emissions), biomass burning, rice production, manure, fertilizer production, irrigation, farm machinery and pesticide production. About 74% of total agricultural related greenhouse gas emissions originate in developing countries.

Livestock sector expansion also contributed to overgrazing, land degradation, and an important driver of deforestation in addition to its methane and nitrous oxide emissions from ruminant digestion and manure management, and is the largest global source of methane emissions. Greenhouse gas emissions footprint of livestock sector varies considerably among production systems, regions, and commodities, mainly due to variations in the quality of feed, the feed conversion efficiencies of different animal species and impacts on deforestation and land degradation. Besides the livestock production, the waterlogged and warm soils of rice paddies make rice production system a large emitter of methane from agriculture.

Effect of climate change in agriculture

The cumulative impact of climate will have economic consequences and potentially large implications for the wellbeing and sustainable development of rural populations.  Fundamental to this are a wide range of cross-sectorial impacts affecting health, water and energy resources, ecosystems, and land use. The impacts of climate change to agriculture over the next 50 to 100 years may include:

  • Changing spatial and inter-temporal variability in stream flows, onset of rain days, and dry spells (Strzepek and McCluskey, 2006 ),
  • More frequent floods and droughts, with greater erosion rates from more intense rainfall events and flooding (Agoumi, 2003),
  • Increased crop water requirements from higher temperatures, reduced precipitation and increased evaporation, with likely more negative impacts on dryland than irrigated agricultural systems (Dinar et al., 2009),
  • Positive and negative production and net yield changes for key crops including maize, wheat, and rice, among others, over different time periods, resulting in changes in crop and management choices (e.g. irrigation, crop type) (Kurukulasuriya and Mendelsohn, 2006 ),
  • Potentially lengthened growing seasons and production benefits to irrigated and dryland systems under mild climate scenarios (Thornton et al., 2006 ),
  • Increased heat and water stress on livestock, with possible shifts from agriculture towards livestock management (i.e. stock increases) under increased temperatures with a different mix of more heat resistant species than today and possible benefits to small farms (Seo and Mendelsohn, 2006 ; Dinar et al., 2009).
  • Higher temperatures in arid and semi-arid regions will likely depress crop yields and shorten the growing season due to longer periods of excessive heat.

Climate change will not equally affect all countries and regions, even if Africa represents only 3.6% of emissions, the (IPPC, 2007) report highlighted that Africa will be one of the continents that will be hard hit by the impact of climate change due to an increased temperature and water scarcity. The report pointed out that there is “very high confidence” that agricultural production and food security in many African countries will be severely affect by climate change and climate variability.

Climate change will likely have the biggest impact in equatorial regions such as sub-Saharan Africa. This means that countries already struggling with food security are likely to find they struggle still harder in the future. World Bank (2009) study that focuses on developing countries estimates that without offsetting innovations, climate change will ultimately cause a decrease in annual GDP of 4% in Africa. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warns that an increase in average global temperatures of just two to four degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels could reduce crop yields by 15-35 percent in Africa and western Asia, and by 25-35 percent in the Middle East. While an increase of two degrees alone could potentially cause the extinction of millions of domestic and wild species that have a biodiversity and food security potentials.

Adaptation of Agriculture from climate change

The vulnerability of a system depends on its exposure and sensitivity to climate changes, and on its ability to manage these changes (IPCC, 2001). Three intuitive approaches appear to have informed the prioritization of adaptation programs of actions and strategies to climate change, namely: a) social vulnerability approach (addressing underlying social vulnerability); b) resilience approach (managing for enhanced ecosystem resilience); and c) targeted adaptation approach (targeting adaptation actions to specific climate change risks).

Climate change adaptation enhanced by altering exposure, reducing sensitivity of the system to climate change impacts and increasing the adaptive capacity of the system while simultaneously explicitly recognizing sector specific consequences. With this respect, adaptation in the agricultural sector seen in terms of both short-term and long-term actions. The provision of crop and livestock insurance, social safety nets, new irrigation schemes and local management strategies, as well as research and development of stress resistant crop varieties form the core of short-term responses. Long-term responses include re-designing irrigation systems, developing land management systems and raising finances to sustain adoption of those systems.

Safety nets are likely to become increasingly important in the context of climate change as increased incidence of widely covariate risks will require the coverage and financing that these sources may provide. Some of the options for adapting agriculture to climate change have related cost for Agricultural research, Irrigation efficiency, Irrigation expansion and development of Roads.

Improving the use of climate science data for agricultural planning can reduce the uncertainties generated by climate change, improve early warning systems for drought, flood, pest and disease incidence and thus increase the capacity of farmers and agricultural planners to allocate resources effectively and reduce risks. Better use of assessing risks and vulnerability and then developing the safety nets and insurance products as an effective response is already being piloted in some areas with fairly positive results (Barrett et al. 2007).

Mitigation of Agriculture for climate change

Climate change mitigation refers to an anthropogenic intervention to reduce the sources or enhance the sinks of greenhouse gases (FAO, 2011d). In other words, mitigation means taking action to reduce the causes of climate change by limiting the amount of heat trapping gases that emitted into the Earth’s atmosphere. Agriculture could increasing carbon sinks, as well as reducing emissions per unit of agricultural product. The agricultural sector: high mitigation potential with strong adaptation and sustainable development co-benefits.

Mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture sector includes reduction of emissions, avoided the emissions and creating sinks that can remove emissions. Lower rates of agricultural expansion in natural habitats, agro-forestry, treating of degraded lands, reduction or using more efficient use of nitrogenous inputs, better management of manure, and use of feed that increases livestock digestive efficiency are some of the major mitigation options in agriculture.

soil carbon sequestration have nearly 90% of agriculture’s climate change mitigation potential could be realized, if carbon markets could introduce to “ provide strong incentives for public and private carbon funds in developed countries to buy agriculture-related emission reductions from developing countries. Soil carbon sequestration by improved land use and management can increase and maintain greater soil Carbon stocks (i.e., sequester C) include a variety of practices that either increase the amount of C added to soils (as plant residues and manure) and/or reduce the relative rate of CO2 released through soil respiration. Soil carbon sequestration practices include: 1) improved grazing land management, 2) improved crop rotations, 3) improved fallows, 4) residue management, 5) reduced tillage, 6) organic matter amendments, 7) restoration of degraded lands, 8) rewetting of cultivated organic soils and (9 Agroforestry. More over using improved nutrient management could increase the plant uptake efficiency of applied nitrogen, reduce N2O emissions, while contributing to soil C sequestration. Agroforestry systems tend to sequester much greater quantities of carbon than agricultural systems without trees. Planting trees in agricultural lands is relatively efficient and cost effective compared to other mitigation strategies, and provides a range of co-benefits important for improved farm family livelihoods and climate change adaptation.

Livestock improvements brought about by more research on ruminant animals, storage and capture technologies for manure and conversion of emissions into biogas are additional contributions that agriculture can make towards mitigating climate change. The anaerobic digestion of manure stored as a liquid or slurry can lower methane emissions and produce useful energy, while the composting solid manures can lower emissions and produce useful organic amendments for soils. To reach the full potential of agriculture in climate change mitigation, transformations are needed in both commercial and subsistence agricultural systems, but with significant differences in priorities and capacity.

In commercial systems, increasing efficiency and reducing emissions, as well as other negative environmental impacts, benefits by increasing carbon sinks, as well as reducing emissions per unit of agricultural product. The sustainable intensification of production, especially in developing countries, can ensure food security and contribute to mitigating climate change by reducing deforestation and the encroachment of agriculture into natural ecosystems. Mitigation of climate change through agriculture is an environmental service that smallholders can provide and is often synergistic with improvements to agricultural productivity and stability.

Climate smart agriculture as a way forward

Climate-smart agriculture is a practice that sustainably increases productivity, resilience (adaptation), reduces/removes GHGs (mitigation), and enhances achievement of national food security and development goals. Efficiency, resilience, adaptive capacity and mitigation potential of the production systems can be enhanced through improving its various components. The future of agricultural production relies on both designing new ways to adapt to the likely consequences of climate change, as well as changing agricultural practices to mitigate the cli-mate damage that current practices cause, all without undermining food security, rural development and livelihoods.

Major transformation of the agriculture sector will be necessary and this will require institutional and policy support. Better-aligned policy approaches across agricultural, environmental and financial boundaries and innovative institutional arrangements to promote their implementation is crucial. Enabling policy environment to promote climate-smart smallholder agricultural transformations is greater coherence, coordination and integration between climate change, agricultural development and food security policy processes.

In farm decision-making and practices, the adaptation and mitigation measures are often the same agricultural practices that also benefit farmers by increasing productivity and resilience. However, there may be important trade-offs too. In these situations, where climate-smart practices entail costs for the farmers and these changes are deemed to bring substantial benefits to the society, the farmers facing extra costs should be compensated through different payment mechanisms, rewarding these farmers for the environmental service they provide. With this prospect climate change creates new financing requirements both in terms of amounts and financial flows associated with needed investments, which will require innovative institutional solutions. In synthesizing potential synergies between adaptation and mitigation in smallholder agricultural transitions.


East African Community Appeals International Community To Help Drought-hit Somalia

NAIROBI, Sept 12 (BERNAMA-NNN-Xinhua) — East Africa’s bloc has appealed to the international community to help Somalia where more than one million people face food shortages.

The regional bloc, Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), also hailed the measures the Somali government has undertaken to mitigate the devastating effects of the current drought in the country.

“IGAD hereby places an appeal to the international community to promptly assist the Somali government in its effort to overcome the challenges of drought before it becomes famine,” said the statement received in Nairobi.

The appeal comes after the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has warned of worsening food security situation in Somalia in the next several months as drought looms in the Horn of Africa nation.

Latest assessment findings by the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit and the Famine Early Warning Systems Network reflect a significant decline of food providing, owing to a lethal mix of drought, surging food prices and conflict.

Over one million people in Somalia face food insecurity today, up by 20 percent from 857,000 six months ago, bringing the total number of people in need of humanitarian assistance or livelihood support to over 3 million.

According to the UN, after gradual rebuilding of livelihoods since the 2011 famine that cost over 250,000 lives in excess mortality, fragile gains are now being eroded and malnutrition rates are again on the rise.

The regional bloc said the Somali government has not only established a Special Committee to tackle the drought and its effects, but also follows and addresses the needs of those who are affected as much as its capacity allows.

The Somalia government has declared the urgency of making food, water, medication and shelter available to the victims of the current drought, which has occurred within a very short span of time since the last devastating drought of 2011.

It has also allocated 500,000 U.S. dollars to the victims to reach intended recipients as soon as possible in the form of the items mentioned above.

“IGAD would like to add its voice to that of the government of Somalia in stressing the need for international assistance in the form not only of food, water and medication, but also vehicles and other technical support that would assist in moving the supplies to where they are most needed,” the statement said.

3-D Printer for Small Holder African Farmers and Agricultural Development  

A Program for labour saving agricultural technologies for smallholder women farmers

 The overall goal of the farmer participatory 3D4AgDev Program is to link the potential of User-Led Innovation with Rapid Prototyping (via 3D printing) to enable women smallholder farmers in Africa to design and develop their own labour-saving agricultural tools, tailor-made for their culture, soils and cropping systems. The 3D4AgDev Program has been kickstarted by a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) Grand Challenges Exploration (GCE) Phase I grant to the Plant & AgriBiosciences Research Centre (PABC) in the National University of Ireland Galway.

The 3D4AgDev Program is a research partnership program between the NUI Galway PABC and Concern Worldwide which aims to operate as an open-innovation research platform to harness advances in rapid prototyping so that improved labour-saving technologies can be more effectively developed for and by women smallholder farmers.


The need for labour-saving agricultural technologies for smallholder women farmers

The overall goal of the farmer participatory 3D4AgDev Program is to link the potential of User-Led Innovation with Rapid Prototyping (via 3D printing) to enable women smallholder farmers in Africa to design and develop their own labour-saving agricultural tools, tailor-made for their culture, soils and cropping systems. The 3D4AgDev Program has been kickstarted by a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) Grand Challenges Exploration (GCE) Phase I grant to the Plant & AgriBiosciences Research Centre (PABC) in the National University of Ireland Galway. The 3D4AgDev Program is a research partnership program between the NUI Galway PABC and Concern Worldwide.

Over 1000 million smallholder farmers (predominantly women) are farming using labour intensive agricultural hand tools. Such agricultural tools include tools for tasks such as weeding, planting, harvesting and crop/food processing. Smallholder agricultural systems remain largely dependent on human labour, having minimal access to alternative energy sources for cultivation and agri-processing such as draught animals or fossil-fuel powered mechanization.

Routes out of poverty for smallholder rural communities will require a swathe of innovations that improve the labour productivity of their agricultural systems. Smallholder farmers living on less than a dollar a day face this challenge in an era when energy demand and energy costs are increasing to their disadvantage. The innovation challenge is how to enable smallholders to generate more income and agricultural produce while reducing the labour burden on women and rural children so that their livelihoods can improve.

Harnessing user-led innovation of women smallholder farmers

User-led innovation refers to incorporating the opinions, knowledge, and circumstances of end users into the designs of products that those people will be using. Sounds like common sense, but traditional manufacturing often has difficulty applying special customizations since it focuses on mass production to keep cost effective. The plan is to start in Tanzania; women farmers will be involved in the design of the tools they need and prototypes will be printed. A very few tools could be functional in plastic format, like small shovels and germination equipment. Most of farming is a bit more intensive though, so the prototypes will be taken to local blacksmiths to copy, likely with casting.

User-led innovation is increasingly used to develop consumer products  (toys, sports equipment, etc.) and rapid prototyping using 3D printers is now widely used by industrial designers.By linking user-led innovation approaches with rapid 3D prototyping the design process for agricultural tools can be turned upside down. Women smallholder farmers lacking formal education can design agricultural hand tools and household food processing equipment to meet their own needs. Local tool manufacturers (artisans, blacksmiths) can copy plastic prototypes and develop their own modifications to ensure that agricultural tools are suited to both smallholder farmer needs and purchasing power.

Facilitating rural enterprise & labour-saving impacts through 3D printing rapid-prototyping technologies

The 3D4AgDev Program aims a participatory technology development program with women smallholders farmers so that the farmers can develop their own agricultural tool and labour-saving innovations. Labour saving tools for women smallholders can have major impacts, including leading to higher yields, higher incomes, more time for other activities, and reductions in harmful child labour in rural areas. Through linking the women smallholder farmer groups to rapid-prototyping user innovation processes, there is significant potential to improve the status of rural women through fostering an enterprise-oriented “maker culture” for agri-tool innovations.



Potential of #Local Food to Improve Food and Nutrition security Okra in #Ethiopia


Okra, also known as Ladies Fingers, Gombo, Bendi or Gumbo, appears to have originated from West 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 or ladies finger 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. Okra used in countries like India in huge amount, okra accounts for 60 per cent of the export of fresh vegetables. India exports okra mainly to West Asia, Western Europe and the US. The demand for fresh okra is more in the overseas markets.

Okra pods are available year round. Okra is a very healthy green vegetable that contains many important minerals, vitamins, electrolytes and antioxidants which are essential to good health. Read on, to learn various okra health benefits.

Nutritional value of okra, scientific evidence

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 (60 to 70%) in unsaturated fatty acids. Okra mucilage refers to the thick and slimy substance found in fresh as well as dried pods. Mucilaginous substances are usually concentrated in the pod walls.


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


Health and Medicinal Value: Scientific Evidence


  • The fiber content of okra has many high qualities; it 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.
  • This is a 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 in ETHIOPIA: Berta Community

Berta is one of the five local ethnic groups found in Benishangulumuz regional state. According to 2007 national census survey (CSA, 2007) report around 173,743 Berta communities found in the region. This local community resides along the Ethiopia Sudan border and they shared same ethnic group in the other side (Sudan) of Ethiopia-Sudan border. Berta community use some special local foods like ocra ( kenkase) , hibiscus (kerkada)and bamboo shoot as a stable food recipe in the area.

The Berta community usually uses okra as a wet to eat food prepared from sorghum and maize, sorghum and maize are the two main stable crops cultivated in the area.

Besides using okra for household consumption, there is a great demand for the plant in the local market to be used for the town communities like in Asosa and also substantial amount of it is cross to Sudan with rewarding price.

The Berta community proudly reported that the reason behind resisting from the high risk of malaria case in the area, for their digestive system and general healthy condition is their food habit of using okra in their food.

Future Direction

As we can see Okra is very important crop for the local Berta community and research papers show that okra is become known in western and North American dishes. However there is no significant promotion and research done in Ethiopia to promote and enhance the food value and market of okra. Future research strategies should give emphasis on promoting local food like okra that have play significant role in improving nutritional content of the Ethiopian dish.

Research and development focuses on traditional food plants and on essential oils shall be one of the Ethiopian national agriculture research systems program in addressing the national calorie deficit , malnutrition and for the treatment of life style diseases that are recently become prevalent  in urban parts of the community.

Since processed food items derived from traditional crops like have a potential export market value, on the quest of developing traditional and indigenous plants that have a great medicinal value for fighting diabetes, nutritional dense in micronutrients and treating the case of different cancer cells could be a source of generating additional income if they are properly researched, developed and marketed.


Reading material reviewed

How to Plant and Grow Okra |

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.

Nutrition Sensitive Agriculture to fight hidden hunger: Implication for Ethiopia

Malnutrition continues to be an obstacle for economic growth and human well-being in many African countries. Despite a high level of commitment, many countries in Africa are not on track to achieve the nutrition-related Millennium development goals by 2015, such as halving child nutrition, reducing child mortality, and improving maternal health. An IFPRI Policy Note highlights some of the factors which inhibit the reduction of malnutrition, mainly due to a lack of political commitment. The cross-sectorial nature of nutrition with linkages to health, agriculture, education, infrastructure, and social development complicates planning processes. Another report indicates that nutrition is not prioritized because policymakers view it as an outcome from, rather than an input into, human development.

It is estimated that one – third of the world’s population are affected by deficiencies of one or several micronutrients. The most prevalent deficiencies are: anemia and iron deficiency affecting 1.6 billion people; iodine deficiency with 1.9 billion people at risk; and vitamin A deficiency affecting 190 million children under 5 years of age (WHO 2004; WHO 2008; WHO 2009). Deficiencies of zinc, folate, and B-vitamins are also prevalent but the extent is less well known. Low intakes and/or low bioavailability of micronutrients from monotonous plant based diets lead to micronutrient deficiencies often in the most vulnerable population groups such as women and young children. Micronutrient malnutrition causes reduced physical and cognitive development of children and increased morbidity and mortality in children and adults.

Cost of Hunger in Africa
Today, there are more stunted children in Africa than 20 years ago. 69 % to 82 % of all cases of child undernutrition are not properly treated. Most of the health costs associated with undernutrition occurs before the child turns one.

Between 7 % – 16 % of repetitions in school are associated with stunting. Stunted children achieve 0.2 years to 1.2 years less in school education. 8 % to 28 % of all child mortality is associated with undernutrition. Child mortality associated with undernutrition has reduced national workforces by 67 % of working-age populations suffered from stunting as children. Undernourished children are at higher risk for anaemia, diarrhoea, fever and respiratory infections. These additional cases of illness are costly to the health system and families. Undernourished children are at higher risk of dying.

Stunted children are at higher risk for repeating grades in school and dropping out of school. Additional instances of grade repetitions are costly to the education system and families.
If a child dropped out of school early and is working in he or she may be less productive, particularly in the non-manual labour market. If he or she is engaged in manual labour he/she has reduced physical capacity and tends to be less productive. People who are absent from the workforce due to undernutrition-related child mortalities represent lost economic productivity.

Control and prevention strategies
Strategies to prevent and control micronutrient malnutrition aim at increasing the micronutrient intake by dietary diversification, supplementation, fortification and Bio-fortification. These approaches should be regarded as complementary with their relative importance depending on local conditions and specific requirements.

Dietary diversification aims at adding micronutrient dense foods, such as animal source foods, fruits and vegetables to diets based on staple food crops. The major constraints to dietary diversification are the availability and accessibility of micronutrient dense foods, especially in poorer settings as well as the need for behavior change and education.

Supplementation is the provision of relative large doses of micronutrients in form of pills or syrup to treat or prevent deficiencies. The most common supplementation programs include the provision of iron and folate to pregnant women and vitamin A for young children. Expensive supply and poor compliance are the major limitations of this strategy.

Fortification of foods with micronutrients is a preventive strategy which has been successfully used in many countries including well known programs such as salt fortification with iodine and wheat flour fortification with iron and folate. Guidelines to plan and implement efficient programs are available (WHO and FAO 2006). A major drawback of food fortification is that rural populations with limited access to processed foods can often not be reached. For these populations living predominantly on staple food crops Bio-fortification is a promising approach.

Bio-fortification is the process of increasing the level and/or bioavailability of essential nutrients in edible parts of crops by conventional plant breeding or transgenic techniques. Conventional breeding has been the primary approach to enhance staple food crops with iron, zinc and provitamin A carotenoids. Rice, wheat, maize, pearl millet, the common bean, sweet potato and cassava are the main targeted crops of HarvestPlus, the CGIAR’s (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research) Bio-fortification Challenge program (Pfeiffer and McClafferty 2007; Bouis and Welch 2010). Three prerequisites have been identified to make Bio-fortification successful: i) a bio-fortified crop must be high yielding and profitable to the farmer; ii) the bio-fortified crop must be shown to be efficacious and effective reducing micronutrient malnutrition in target populations, and iii) the bio-fortified crop must be acceptable to farmers and consumers in target regions (Hotz and McClafferty 2007).
For bio fortified crops to be efficacious and effective, not only the enhanced concentration of the micronutrients in the edible part of the crop is important, but also the bioavailability of the micronutrients. In addition, the effect of food processing and preparation on micronutrient concentration and bioavailability needs to be considered.

Linking Nutrition to Agriculture: Nutrition sensitive interventions

Nutrition by nature is a multifaceted, multisectoral issue. Interventions from a variety of sectors should contribute to sustainable improvements in nutrition. Direct interventions improving nutrition are mostly found in the Health domain and Indirect interventions contributing to improved nutritional outcomes can be found in the domains of Agriculture, Economic development, Social development, Social protection, Education, Women and Gender Affairs, Water and Sanitation, etc.

Nutrition sensitive interventions address the underlying causes of malnutrition, while nutrition specific interventions address the direct causes. Nutrition sensitive interventions are never typically in themselves a sufficient intervention to remedy malnutrition.


• Increasing (staple) food production, increasing food availability, lowering food prices
• Diversification of agricultural production
• Micronutrient-rich crops
• Crops/varieties with reduced anti-nutritional factors
• Animal derived foods with higher bio-availability of micronutrients
• Plant breeding for elevated levels of micronutrients (bio-fortification)

Post-harvest processing and food processing

• Reducing food losses
• Extending shelf life
• Increasing food availability
• Adding value
• Maintaining (micro-)nutrients
• Reducing anti-nutritional factors

Recent Development in Ethiopia

Special attention to fight malnutrition is given by policy makers and non-government organizations in as a recent development. Different kinds of intervention including media campaign on feeding children and mothers, nutrition education, nutrition specific interventions to affected population and nutrition sensitive agriculture are materialized.

To make nutritional poor agricultural commodity modified for better nourishment bio fortified crops like orange flesh sweet potato and quality protein maize are promoted to the farming community. In addition to diversification of household produced by giving special intervention to agricultural enterprise which has ignored in previous agricultural development and extension programs mainly backyard agriculture as a source of nutritionally dense green leafy vegetables.

The way forward

Food insecurity and malnutrition is a cumulative effect of previous miss matched development interventions of decades and Even if some efforts made in recent development for giving attention to mainstream a nutrition sensitive agriculture and nutrition sensitive agricultural value chain development is needed. More initiative and programs should be developed so find a social viable and sustainable solution for the multi-dimensional problem of malnutrition in Ethiopia.

India strengthens ties with CGIAR institutions in Ethiopia and Kenya

Honorable Minister of Agriculture, Government of Karnataka, Mr Krishna Byre Gowda (extreme right) visiting a farmer’s field near Holetta in Ethiopia. Photo: ICRISAT
Mr Krishna Byre Gowda, Honorable Minister of Agriculture, Government of Karnataka, paid a visit to Ethiopia and Kenya to gain an understanding of the work being carried out by CGIAR centers based in Africa and to identify best practices and information that can be used to strengthen the ongoing developmental programs in the state of Karnataka in India.

Interacting with representatives of the centers at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) campus in Addis Ababa on 24 December, the Minister said, “Though the state of Karnataka made significant progress in improving the productivity of agriculture, in recent years, growth had stagnated. Intensive cultivation had led to a rapid decline in soil nutrient levels, leading to micronutrient deficiencies.

“Thanks to the collaborative efforts of ICRISAT and the State agricultural department, some of these issues were identified and corrective actions were taken. Karnataka has now returned to a positive growth rate in agriculture. This demonstrates the need for science-based interventions in identifying problems and in implementing appropriate solutions,” he added.

Mr Byre Gowda also stressed on the importance of improving agriculture in developing countries such as India and Ethiopia despite its diminishing share in GDP due to the sector’s crucial role as a source of livelihood for a majority of the poor people.

The interactions gave the Minister a clear overview of various projects and activities that the centers are pursuing in Ethiopia. Among the activities that were found to be highly relevant to the conditions in Karnataka include efforts on sustainable intensification through expansion of small-scale irrigation and strategic improvements in rainfed agricultural systems by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI); the soil health program of the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF); mapping of soil nutrient status using satellite imagery by the International Centre for Maize and Wheat Improvement (CIMMYT) in collaboration with US’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA); the Livestock and Irrigation Value chains for Ethiopian Smallholders (LIVES) project of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) with support from the Canadian International Development Agency and efforts to improve resilience of dryland systems by the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA).

Mr K Byre Gowda interacts with representatives of CGIAR centers with country offices in Ethiopia. Photo: ICRISAT
Mr Byre Gowda’s visit focused on wide ranging discussions with the representatives of eight CGIAR centers based in Ethiopia – ICRISAT, ILRI, IWMI, ICRAF, CIMMYT, ICARDA, Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

The Minister also visited the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR) and met with its Director General Dr Fentahun Mengitsu, who briefed him about the Institute’s research network and major programs and those implemented by the Government of Ethiopia.

“Ethiopia has made significant progress in the past 10 to 15 years and is one of the few countries in Africa that is spending more than 10 per cent of the national budget on agriculture,” Dr Mengitsu explained. He went on to elucidate on his country’s historical relationship with India and its contribution to capacity building. The sustainable land management initiative, similar to the watershed programs in India, is one of the flagship programs currently being implemented by the Government of Ethiopia to support smallholder farmers.

Concluding the meeting, the Minister said: “Farmers in India and Ethiopia are facing very similar problems. Some of the problems that India is facing now could be Ethiopia’s problems in the future. There are lessons that each of us can borrow from the other’s work. A strong collaboration between the two countries will be mutually beneficial”.

The visit was organized by ICRISAT on behalf of the Consortium of CGIAR centers that is working closely with the Government of Karnataka, Ministry of Agriculture in implementing the “Bhoochetana Plus” program.

Mr Byre Gowda also visited farmers’ fields and a commercial flower farm near Holetta, in Ethiopia.

In Nairobi, Kenya, the Minister interacted with representatives of CGIAR centers located in the country. He toured the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) campus and interacted with the local farmers.

The visit was facilitated by Drs Moses Siambi, ICRISAT’s Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA); KPC Rao, Principal Scientist, ICRISAT; and NVPR Ganga Rao, Senior Scientist – Breeding, ICRISAT.