Food security critical - organisation

2011-04-18 14:37
Food security can be achieved by small innovations, Danielle Nierenberg has said. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Food security can be achieved by small innovations, Danielle Nierenberg has said. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cape Town - There are many small innovations that could increase food security for the planet's population, the Worldwatch Institute has said.

In its State of the World 2011 report, the body said that many examples of innovation had the potential to solve the food crisis in poor countries.

"We've released a book that is a roadmap for donors after our two year project to eliminate hunger and poverty. But there is no magic bullet," senior researcher Danielle Nierenberg at the World Watch Institute told News24.

Nierenberg has spent 15 months in Africa, evaluating 300 projects in 25 countries and has urged decision-makers to adopt practices that promote diversification of farming on the continent. She is opposed to genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as a solution to food shortages.

Extreme poverty

"GMOs don't work for small scale farmers; it's only viable for large, mono culture commercial farmers. There's too much risk involved for African farmers.

"What's more is that the yields are comparable to conventional agriculture. So the industry keeps telling us these GMOs are better, but they get about the same yield," she said.

According to the UN millennium development goal monitor, countries in West Africa particularly struggle with extreme poverty with up to 70% of the population in Nigeria living on less than $1 per day.

The Worldwatch Institute blamed part of the problem on governments encouraging mono culture crops and legislation prohibiting urban farming.

"When farmers diversify, they're more resilient to price shocks and they struggle to grow anything on soil that has degraded. Essentially, you have farmers that are out on their own and extension services are filled by NGOs and companies," Nierenberg said.

She said that there was hope despite failing governments in many African countries and many farmers were turning to traditional practices to grow crops to feed themselves rather than cash crops advised by governments and international organisations.

"In Niger and Mauritania, we've seen farmers working on natural management regeneration of the land. They're re-introducing things that used to grow on the land and they're getting more water and less soil erosion. It's a more self-sustaining form of farming."


Food security and poverty is one of the key targets of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), but it isn't certain that Africa will meet MDG targets by 2015.

"The proportion of people in sub-Saharan Africa living on less than $1 per day is unlikely to be reduced by the target of one-half. 

"About one quarter of all children in developing countries are considered to be underweight and are at risk of having a future blighted by the long-term effects of undernourishment," Regional MDG Policy Advisor for the UN Development Programme in SA, Osten Chulu told News24's Betha Madhomu in 2010.

Even though international food prices are reported to have declined in the first quarter of 2011, famine continues to sweep though Africa, but the World Watch Institute says that better use could be made of the food by eliminating waste.

"All our security depends on making sure we're all fed. There is some change, but a lot of international financing policy is window dressing. We can't just blame one person or institution," said Nierenberg.

The Nourishing the Planet blog briefs decision-makers and NGOs about the need to encourage policies that promote a diverse farming methodology with best practice solutions.

"There are solutions out there not getting attention they deserve. There's a lot of opportunity to combine low- and high tech for food security," she said.

- Follow Duncan on Twitter
- News24
Read more on:    technology  |  environment

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


Goalkeeper saves five penalties with his FACE!

Nothing, and we mean nothing, will keep goalkeeper Scott Stirling from stopping the ball!

This invention makes farts smell like chocolate!
11 things men don’t know about their clothes
Hilarious mortal kombat elevator prank!
Hottie of the day: Nicole Meyer!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now! - shop online today

Save up to 60% on toys!

Don’t miss out on this hot offer, save up to 60% on toys. While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25


The Moon has moved into your sign, emphasizing the need to connect things to work together. There is a tendency to focus too more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.