Yet because the world as a whole produces enough food for the entire world population, and because countries such as India with massive malnutrition also produce enough food to feed their entire populations, recent approaches to combat malnutrition have de-emphasised food production itself in the interventions needed to combat malnutrition. The emphasis instead has been placed on increasing access to food by increasing the purchasing power of the poor together with better health care, sanitation, education, hygiene, and nutritional practices.
These generalisations, however, do not apply to tropical sub-Saharan Africa (henceforth Africa). The UN Millennium Project Task Force on Hunger has identified Africa as the region facing the greatest challenge in attaining the Millennium Development Goal for hunger—reducing the proportion of people who suffer from hunger by half between 1990 and 2015. The prevalence of hunger in Africa is pervasive and rising. By contrast with most of Asia, Latin America, and the middle east, however, Africa is experiencing a decline in overall food production per capita. Its farmers generate the lowest food output per hectare of any major region in the world, and its farm households account for most of the continent’s hungry population. The task force has concluded that for most of Africa, as well as some remote parts of Asia and Latin America, increasing food production has to be included as an essential part of the synergistic interventions to fight malnutrition.
Hunger in Africa: the link between unhealthy people and unhealthy soils
Prof Pedro A Sanchez PhD, , and Prof MS Swaminathan PhD
a Columbia University Earth Institute, Lamont-Doherty Campus, 61 Route 9W, PO Box 1000, Lamont Hall, 2G, Palisades, NY10964, USA
b M S Swaminathan Research Foundation, Chennai (Madras), India