While yellow maize can easily help solve the food crisis in Africa, most countries treat this type of corn as a poor man’s crop and their people hate to be associated with it.
That came to light recently in Kenya where legislators from eleven national assemblies in the Eastern Africa region convened in Nairobi, to discuss famine and food shortages on the continent.
Participants expressed concern over why the Sub-Saharan Africa precinct should always be susceptible to food shortage despite ample arable land and adequate manpower.
The members of parliament from 11 countries were specifically discussing issues of Food Security and Nutrition as they attended their fifth parliamentary dialogue on such matters.
Launching the Dialogue Kenya National Assembly Speaker, Moses Wetangula challenged the legislators to utilize the land resources from every country and deploy of Modern technology and mechanization in agriculture being among the solutions to ensure food security across the region and the entire Continent.
“Africa has already gone past 70 years of the continent’s independence, yet the people are still suffering from hunger,” Wetangula stated.
Wetangula appealed to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to educate the masses that maize should not be regarded as the only food crop in Africa, as there are many other options such as millet, sorghum, cassava, potatoes and bananas.
The Eastern African Region is currently facing dire effects of drought, water shortages, though on the other hand again, the expected rainy season may bring along the El-Nino spell which could trigger weather related disasters.
Dr David Phiri, the regional representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said more than 135 million people in Africa are undernourished also close to 22 million Children are malnourished which is something that stakeholders need to take seriously and find solution for
“From the first meeting which we held in Arusha 2019 the Alliance has made tremendous achievement of food sustainable goals, a matter that has greatly enhanced food security in the region,” said Dr Phiri.
In attendance were the Members of Parliaments from ten Eastern African nations, including Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda, as well the East Africa Legislative Assembly (EALA) and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
Members of Parliaments (MPs) from eastern African nations established the Eastern Africa Parliamentary Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition (EAPA – FSN) in April 2019 during their meeting in Arusha, Tanzania.
It comprises of legislators from 11 countries: Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda.
Both the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) and the IGAD Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) are members of the Alliance. The Alliance is a sub-regional platform that promotes cross border sharing of experience and best practices for more advocacy work.
FAO has been supporting the organisation of their Annual General Assemblies that have been held in April 2019, October 2019, March 2020 and now 2023, to fast track the operationalisation of the Alliance, through the endorsement of the work plan and road map, which focus on the means by which food insecurity and malnutrition in the sub region can be significantly reduced.
“This year, the assembly has convened in Nairobi for a three-day retreat to explore legal issues and key parliamentary actions to foster linkages between climate actions and food systems transformation in Eastern Africa,” EAPA FSN Chairperson, Mr Adan Hassan stated.
EAPA FSN held its fourth General Assembly in December in Kigali where members lamented the fact that the Eastern Africa sub-region was the global hotspot for high levels of food insecurity and malnutrition.
Donatille Mukabalisa, Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies of Rwanda, underscored that the food security and nutrition situation of the region was concerning.