Good Reason for Optimism
Kofi Annan identifies the two most important challenges for Africa's future development in this urgent and inspirational call to action.
The question of nutrition is at the core of development policy. In the Sustainable Development Goals just adopted by the UN General Assembly in New York, goal number 2 is to end hunger by 2030. How to achieve this goal is the topic of controversy among scientists, politicians and activists alike. As the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has shown, we currently produce more than enough food to feed the world’s present population – yet around 800 million people still suffer from undernutrition. In the 21st century, hunger has become a question of how food is produced and distributed. In issue 16 on “Food & Farming”, DDD takes a close look at the way agriculture works today and what we will be eating tomorrow.
As President of German Welthungerhilfe Bärbel Dieckmann points out in her contribution, development cannot be achieved without solving the question of nutrition.While in the past a lot of concepts focused on how to increase production, our perspective has shifted today. Smallholder farmers still feed more than half of the world’s population, especially the most vulnerable segments of society. To support farmers' interests, Right Livelihood Award winner Vandana Shiva launched the Food Freedom Movement in India. In our interview, she talks about the connection between genetically modified crops, debt and suicides among Indian farmers, and tells us about the events that led to the founding of Navdanya, a network of seed keepers and organic producers spread across 18 Indian states. One of the main challenges facing Africa will be integrating the interests of smallholder farmers into investment by bigger companies, as Ibrahim Mayaki, former Prime Minister of Niger and CEO of NEPAD, explains. According to Mayaki, businesses are increasingly open to cooperation with smallholder farmers. In order to compete with bigger businesses, farmers should join cooperatives, argues Daniel Asare-Kyei, head of Esoko Ghana, a business that provides market price information to farmers via mobile technology. More examples from South Africa, Mexico, Ghana, Malawi and Uganda provide additional insight into the daily lives of smallholder farmers. Such experiences might question the traditional views of development. As Mario Pezzini (Director of OECD Development Centre) argues, the narrative of development has recently changed, challenging the notion that only the South has to learn from the North. In many cases it is the other way around.
In addition to food production, we also want to shed some light on the product itself. Bloggers from all over the world share their favorite dishes with us. From a more scientific perspective, Carlos A. Monteiro warns about the dangers of the “snack attack” and stresses the importance of the social aspect of eating. In a similar vein, Francesco Branca and Marzella Wüstenfeld from the World Health Organization point out the links between poverty and obesity. Lima is a very good example of the cultural relevance of food. Artist Barbara Petzold Horna talks about Lima’s cuisine and its relevance for the country's identity. This connection is also evident in Petzold Horna's artistic work, which accompanies her article. Juan Arellano analyzes in detail how food trends shape production patterns drawing on the example of the pseudocereal quinoa. A looming global protein shortage might lead to another change in production patterns. Frédéric Viala founded Entofood to produce insect protein to fill this gap. He explains why the black soldier fly is the insect best suited for this endeavor and what challenges his business is facing.
We would like to thank former Secretary-General of the United Nations and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Kofi Annan and German Federal Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development Gerd Müller for their thoughtful and inspiring introductions to this issue.
We hope you enjoy this latest issue of DDD. Please tell us what you think and be part of the debates!
Your team of editors
Frederik Caselitz, Patrick Delaney, Prisca Watko and Maren Zeidler