Posted: Friday April 20, 2012 4:31 AM BT

Lack of food preservation facilities and poor road infrastructure to transport crops from areas with plenty to areas with little has been cited as a key factor leading to food insecurity in Africa.

University of Nigeria Prof Chibuike Uche said this yesterday, while presenting his paper entitled “Can Land Rush Lead to Skills Transfer in Africa?” at a session organised by the Research on Poverty Alleviation (Repoa).

Prof Uche cited a case of Nigeria where he said its people were forced to drink imported fruit juice despite farmers in the country growing plenty of fruits that could have been used to produce the same.

He said the so-called foreign investment in African agriculture was mainly for overseas food security adding that Africa had the potential to increase crop yields.

“Inability to add value is a serious problem in Africa. African countries ought to introduce processing plants, which foreign investors can operate rather than give land. Foreign investment could also be restricted in certain areas,” said the professor.

Contributing to the discussion, Jamal Msami from Repoa mentioned poor infrastructure as a factor leading to food insecurity saying African governments ought to improve road infrastructure to alleviate the problem.

“Food crops are there but the problem is poor road infrastructure to transport them from areas with plenty to those with shortages. We shouldn’t rush to invite foreign investors but should rather sort out the problem, “said Msami.

Donald Mmari from Repoa said Tanzania should try to draw lessons from Asian countries such as China to see how they managed to increase food production while decreasing its prices to curb the problem.

“We have to find a solution how to solve the problem of farmers complaining that their crops sell at low prices with consumers complaining over higher prices in the market. We need to go back to the industrial policy we can’t avoid it,” said Mmari. For his part, Njoki Tibenda from Tanzania Investment Centre said there was a need to come up with clear policies which would define who should own land.

“The land ownership policy is only known by lawmakers themselves and not people from rural areas. Let us own land and use it by either renting or leasing it jointly or individually,” said Tibenda.

Land disputes have of recent increased and people have been forcefully evicted from their land to pave the way for investors in Loliondo, Kilombero Ihefu and Njedengwa in Dodoma just to mention a few.

This article was published in The Guardian newspaper and is also available at the following link:
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