An International Conference on Food and Nutrition will today convene in Kigali to discuss food security in Africa and propose solutions that can help the 257 million Africans who are undernourished.
Is it lack of budget, political will, lack of nutritional knowledge and drought? These are some of the questions to be answered at the International Conference on Food and Nutrition Security Policy in Kigali.
Current evidence shows a rise in world hunger, where the number of people suffering from hunger has been growing over the past three years, returning to levels from a decade ago.
Today, according to organizers of the conference, there are 821 million undernourished people in the world – an increase of 36.4 million from 2015. Of these, 257 million are in Africa, of whom 237 million are in sub-Saharan Africa.
The specific objectives of the policy dialogues are to engage diverse stakeholders in a discussion to identify good practice, lessons learned, emerging opportunities, critical gaps and challenges at the implementation level, as well as discussing the broader national, regional and global policy implications of building resilience and improving food and nutrition security.
Among solutions to propose at the conference include the alternatives of livestock and small livestock as sources of proteins.
Venuste Muhamyankaka, Executive Secretary of Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Alliance, an umbrella of NGOs that promote food security in Rwanda which co-organized the conference told KT Press; “We shall discuss, among others, some alternatives to the meat provided by livestock for example.”
He said further said that their experts “propose a promotion of edible insects and warms that are not expensive to rear.”
“Expensive” in the understanding of these experts is not first and foremost in terms of money, but the environment and resources that are required to have meat.
A research that was quoted by Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Network (FANRPAN) which co-organized this conference indicated that it is very expensive to produce one kilogram of meat.
“The Institute of Mechanical Engineers (UK) estimates that over 15,000 litres of water are required to produce a kilogram of beef,
and that cattle are some of the leading contributors of Green House Gas Emissions (GHGs),” the concept note by FANRPAN reads.
As the food experts seek to find alternatives to proteins by looking forward to promoting insects and warms however, Muhamyankaka finds that, in some societies like Rwanda, change of the mindset campaigns will be required.
“Rwandans are not used to such nutrition, but it will require sensitisation campaign,” said Muhamyankaka.
Statistics indicate that 81.% of Rwandans are food secure.
In other areas, the conference will discuss post-harvest handling; storage facilities which need intervention of governments. They will also share some skills and experiences from several countries on domestic storage and best handling of food.
Over 100 participants are expected to attend the conference.