By; MOHAMMED KAWU, Bauchi
Oxfam in Nigeria, an International Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) has said that it is time for developing countries to build a more equal, sustainable global food system for the long term where no one goes hungry.
According to the NGO, the food crisis that the world is now facing has been made worse by the war in Ukraine, saying however that it is not new, as impact of the war is the latest in a long series of failures in the global food system.
Oxfam in a statement by its communication officer, Rita Abiodun and made available to the press in Bauchi, recalled that before the war in Ukraine, wheat prices shot up by 80 per cent between April 2020 and December 2021.
“It is the poorest who are hit hardest. Food inflation has hit several low-income countries hard. Food inflation in the G7 is at 10 percent whereas in Ethiopia it is at 44 percent”.
According to the organization, people in low-income countries spend a bigger chunk of their income on food, revealing that people in East Africa spend up to 60 per cent of their income on food, unlike in UK where the figure is 11.6 percent.
“Hundreds of millions of people do not have enough to eat. In East Africa, one person is estimated to be dying of hunger every 48 seconds in drought-ravaged Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia”.
“Fourty-seven million more people are expected to be pushed into acute hunger due to the impact of the Ukraine war. People in rich countries are facing increasing levels of hunger too. Meanwhile, the top food traders have gotten richer”.
Oxfam explained that the world produces more than enough to feed everyone with 5,935 calories per person produced daily, saying however, the problem is inequality in global food distribution, lack of affordable food, growing crops to fuel cars and trucks, and food wastage.
“The global system is broken: many low-income countries produce food for export but are unable to feed their own people. Instead, they rely on food imports from a handful of countries like Russia and Ukraine. The hunger hotspots of Somalia and Eritrea are almost entirely dependent on wheat imports from Russia and Ukraine”.
“Not everyone is losing out. While millions of people are facing extreme hunger, food billionaires and powerful food companies and traders profit from the current system. Food and agri-business billionaires have seen their collective wealth increase by 45 percent in the last two years”.
Oxfam in Nigeria disclosed that there have been 62 new food billionaires 62 new food billionaires in the last two and a half years, with the four biggest food traders carrying out 70 per cent of global trade in agricultural commodities by value, saying, the solution to tackling hunger is not to ramp up global production.
Rita Abiodun stated clearly that the solution lies in investing in local small-scale farmers, in particular women farmers, stressing that if women farmers in low and middle-income countries had the same access to resources as men, it could increase the food security of 100 – 150 million people.