Address food insecurity

A farmer in Lwengo District attends to her beans as they dry under the sun in February 2023. Only large-scale farmers and big organisations have secure stores for grain. PHOTO/MICHAEL J  SSALI

What you need to know:

  • There ought to be a variety of foodstuffs in sufficient amounts for everybody in the household at all times. 

Normally food insecurity is associated with poverty and inability to produce enough food. The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) defines food security as a situation when a household, at all times, has access to sufficient food to meet its nutritional needs for a healthy and productive life. 

Most poor people don’t have enough land to produce the amount of food they need to live healthy and productive lives. It is not just sufficient volumes of food that are needed. 

There ought to be a variety of foodstuffs in sufficient amounts for everybody in the household at all times. 

It should be composed of carbohydrates and nutrients, like vitamins, proteins, minerals, among others. 

This means that a farming household should ensure it has the livestock and the correct crops from which to derive foodstuffs that can provide the nutritional diet for the family members to live healthy and productive lives at all times.

People who are not farmers and do not earn enough money to buy sufficient food can be described as food insecure too. 

Other people have sufficient land to grow enough food for their nutritional needs but sell most of it to get cash for meeting other needs such as school fees for their children, paying bank loans, or hospital bills. Such people are also food insecure.

There are yet other causes of food insecurity. These include natural hazards such as long severe droughts, which make food production very difficult, hailstorms, too much rain resulting in floods, insect pests like locusts, and earthquakes. 

Other causes of food insecurity are civil conflicts, bad roads, and disease outbreaks like Ebola, HIV, or Covid-19.

Our people need sensitisation on what constitutes a healthy diet. All other things being equal, a farming household should be able to produce all the needed food components for a healthy diet all the time. Food insecurity is one of the leading causes of poor health, frequent visits to hospitals, and poverty. 

People in well paid employment in towns must be educated about the foodstuffs to stock in their homes. It is not enough to just store plenty of rice or maize and consider that to be food security. 

There is a need for vegetables, beans, and a whole range of other foodstuffs. Emphasis should be put on improving crop and animal yields by ensuring that agricultural inputs such as fertilisers, herbicides, and pesticides are affordable.

Michael Ssali is a veteran journalist, [email protected]