- Why is there no food security in Abidjan despite the natural assets and an acceptable food balance?
This situation is due to difficulties in both production and distribution:
– At the production level :
The Ivorian political authorities have, since independence, like all developing countries and African countries in particular, given preference to cash crops or exports (coffee, cocoa, oil palm, …) providing foreign currency necessary for economic development; to the detriment of food crops useful for food and therefore the survival of populations. Moreover, the production system is too dependent on the seasons; so that during the dry seasons, there is a natural shortage of foodstuffs on the markets.
– At the distribution level:
Abidjan, the main urban center of national consumption, is, like other African capitals, largely dependent on the hinterland for its food supplies. It is from the production areas that are sometimes very far away that the products must be taken to reach the capital, which makes distribution sometimes difficult. In Côte d’Ivoire, this difficult task of supplying markets, particularly those in Abidjan, is carried out by FENACOVICI (Fédération Nationale des Coopératives de Vivriers en Côte d’Ivoire) and other private actors with the support of the Office de la commercialisation des produits vivriers (OCPV). However, this task remains laborious and very difficult because there is no formal system for the supply and distribution of food crops in Côte d’Ivoire (lack of logistical and financial resources, lack of road and commercial infrastructure, and above all lack of a regulatory and supervisory framework).
2- How can we guarantee sustainable food security for large African cities and particularly for Abidjan ?
Food security has become a national priority for Côte d’Ivoire and all other African countries since the food crisis and hunger riots. The challenges to be met to achieve this are threefold:
– Food production: it is necessary to increase the production of all foodstuffs, especially rice and animal proteins, of which the country has a deficit. In addition, it is necessary to stabilize production throughout the seasons and from one year to the next. To do this, the State must provide subsidies to producers (credit, inputs, supervision, mechanization, etc.); this is being done for one of its components, with the “All for Rice” project.
– At the distribution level: the State must set up a formal system for the supply and distribution of foodstuffs. This could reduce the cost of basic foodstuffs and make them more accessible, thus contributing to strengthening household food security. In addition, the government should focus on financing (transport, marketing and research on the conservation of perishable foods, processing) and improving the physical marketing infrastructure (road network, collection and grouping centers, storage warehouses, wholesale markets, etc.) and non-physical infrastructure (information, supervision, regulation, etc.).
– Consumption: the State must ensure the quality of products and raise the population’s awareness of a varied and balanced diet for a healthy and active life.
Food sovereignty: an essential condition for sustainable food security in African countries
Food is not a commodity like any other, it is a matter of human food security, it cannot be subordinated to the cold rules of free trade according to John Madeley, in ”The Business of Hunger, Food Security Sacrificed at the Altar of Free Trade”.
These rules subject the agricultural policies of developing countries to trade.
However, external dependence is a brake on food security. To be independent and live with dignity, without external pressure, African states must have the basis to feed their populations themselves. Therefore, they must seek food sovereignty, which could be defined as the right and power of a country or community to determine the production, distribution and consumption of its food according to its tastes and traditions. It does not make trade its priority but rather the satisfaction of the food needs of the population.
Collaboration: E. Adou