Academic journal article Journal of Sustainable Development

Food Sovereignty in the Era of Land Grabbing: An African Perspective

Academic journal article Journal of Sustainable Development

Food Sovereignty in the Era of Land Grabbing: An African Perspective

Article excerpt

Abstract

Food is a basic human right. One of the humanity's significant achievements has been to produce adequate food for the largest growing population. However, the co-existence of chronic hunger and malnutrition with presence of adequate capacities to address it is one of the gravest paradoxes of our time. In one-third of African countries the average daily calorie intake remains below the recommended level of 2100 kcal. The need and importance for greater food sovereignty has emerged out of broader concerns over the negative impact of world's food system on food security and environmental sustainability. Adoption of the food sovereignty principles are essential to empower local communities to have greater control over their productive resources, use and sustain ecologically friendly means of production, and access local markets as well as nutritious and culturally accepted food. The majority of African farmers are smallholders. However, the existing trend of land grabbing in Africa seriously affects food sovereignty in an unprecedented level. Based on the secondary sources, this paper explores different dimensions of the complex relationship between food sovereignty and land grabbing in African countries. It also analyses the various aspects on how the ongoing process of land grabbing in Africa affects food sovereignty which in turn leads to food insecurity of millions. The introduction of intensive agricultural production, due to land grabbing often based on a transformation of complex farming systems for commercial purpose can seriously threaten biodiversity. There is a need to balance the local circumstance while favouring large scale agricultural projects.

Keywords: desertification, food security, food security governance, food sovereignty, land grabbing

1. Introduction

Food is one of the essential needs of people and a basic human right. One of the humanity's significant achievements has been to produce adequate food for the largest growing population. The global food production grew significantly faster than world population over the past several decades due to the advancement of science and technology and development of irrigation facilities (Shapouri & Rosen, 2009). Remarkably, the agricultural production system has been able to produce enough food to provide every one with an adequate diet. Yet one-fifth of the people in developing countries do not have enough to eat to ensure dignified livelihood and are experiencing hunger, malnutrition and starvation (Shaw, 2001). The doctrine of right to adequate food is indivisibly linked to and closely connected with the inherent dignity of people. Its realization remains indispensable and becomes the foundation for the fulfillment of other human rights provided in different legal frameworks (CESCR, 1999). However, the co-existence of chronic hunger and malnutrition especially in the global-South with presence of adequate capacities and appropriate mechanisms to address it is one of the gravest paradoxes of our developmental discourse. This serious trend is not only morally repugnant and unacceptable but politically, economically and socially indefensible under any justifiable grounds (Shaw, 2001). Also the global community stands indicted for knowing different mechanisms and instruments about how to reduce the number of food insecure people, but not doing so (Shaw, 2007).

An adequate food supply is an essential condition for addressing hunger and malnutrition. However, the enhanced food supply alone does not ensure an increased food security for all (Pretty et al., 2003). In developing countries, access to food is closely linked with other socio-economic developmental challenges. Fundamentally, the roots of contemporary food crises including the problem of hunger and malnutrition are not due to lack of food availability but due to lack of access inter alia because of poverty, by large section of people mostly the marginalized communities in the developing world (CESCR, 1999). …

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