Africa: Animal Source Foods Can Help Tackle Malnutrition in Africa – Experts

Actors in Africa’s agriculture sector have made the case for animal source foods as they seek for solutions to tackle malnutrition.

They were speaking on Tuesday, July 13, during a regional dialogue on the role of regional policies in enhancing trade and building collective resilience to volubility, shocks and stress.

The virtual dialogue also aimed to find solutions to improve food systems in east Africa.

Animal source foods refer to food items that come from animals such as fish, meat, milk, eggs, honey, cheese and yoghurt.

The meeting was organised in the wake of food supply challenges on the continent.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), last year 282 million people or 23 per cent of the continent’s population went hungry.

Now experts argue that animal source food can help address some of these challenges because, in addition to high-quality and readily digested protein and energy, they possess essential nutrients that the body needs.

Globally, it is projected that around 660 million people may still face hunger in 2030 due to the effects of Covid-19 on global food security.

“Looking at the data coming from FAO on the state of food security and nutrition, it still shows that we are quite a distance from actually getting zero hunger by 2030,” said Peter Mutuku Mathuki, Secretary-General of EAC.

He said that the burden of malnutrition has persisted, disclosing that an estimated 25 per cent of children in the EAC are stunted.

“We need urgent action to reverse the trend that we are facing… we need to look at how funding for agriculture has been taken in the region, and even generally,” he said, pointing out that funding to agriculture is still very low.

“Therefore, I think it’s a high time we need to invest [more] in agriculture,” he said.

He also said that there is a need to make nutritious food affordable, such as through increasing farm productivity and reducing the cost of food production.

Godfrey Bahiigwa, Director of Agriculture and Rural Development at African Union Commission, said that there is rapid urbanization, whereby it is projected that 50 per cent of Africans will be living in urban centres by 2030.

He said that among trends being observed on the continent there is rising demand for animal source foods.

“I think this is a classic example where, as people’s incomes rise, they tend to consume animal products,” he said.

“And so, what we are arguing is for Africa, while other countries have reservations about increasing meat consumption or animal source foods, on the continent with this high level of malnutrition that we are observing – 282 million of our people – we think animal source products have a role to play in the future of Africa’s food systems,” he said.

Apollos Nwafor- Vice President for Policy and State Capability at AGRA said that there is a huge rise of the middle class on the continent, which he said implies the increasing demand for nutritious food for keeping everyone healthy.

“So, we need to see that building and sustaining nutritious foods and building policies around that is a clear pathway to food system transformation in the continent,” he said.

He said that they are also seeing rising demand for animal source foods, explaining “that means that quite a number of people are actually demanding more meat and milk for example.”

“In 2013, we saw that the average a person was consuming 20 kilogrammes of meat and 25 kilogrammes of milk. By 2050, it’s estimated that an average person will be consuming more than 25 kilogrammes of meat and more than 65 kilogrammes [litres] of milk,” he said. “That means that we have an opportunity to transform Africa’s food systems by focusing and building on animal source of foods, because that is also going to contribute to economic for the continent.”


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Author : New Times

Publish date : 2021-07-15 08:24:47

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