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The Horn of Africa States Grains and Food Production

By Dr. Suleiman Walhad
July 23rd, 2023

: Farmer uses bull to plow his land, agriculture and crop cultivation in rural Ethiopia

And the wrong message that they will be dying of hunger and there will be less bread on the tables in many parts of the African continent, will continue. A large part of the grains received in Africa were mostly coming from Ukraine, some 25,000 MT in the Horn of Africa States alone but much more to the rest of the continent. It is one of those ironies. The mother continent enjoys the best climes and the most agricultural lands in the world, yet its children seem to be waiting for the product of the sweat of Ukrainians who are fighting an existential threat from their old brothers-turned-enemies Russians.

Indeed most Ukraine grain exports go to Europe to fill the breadbaskets of the old continent, yet when a crisis such as the expected blockade of Ukraine exports materialize, if they materialize, the general call is marked by the slogan, Africa will die of hunger. Why does Africa have to die? The continent, despite all the attempts to paint it otherwise continues to protect its children and it prods on and on.

The continent owns vast arable lands and produces different types of indigenous crops such as Cassava, ensette and its own wheat, teff, corn, millet, Sorghum, and barley. Why is it necessary to send out messages of Africa dying  in the place of Africa should increase its production of its local foods and grains? Why should there be calls warning of potential shortages of grains in Africa as a result of constraints of imports from Ukraine and other parts? Perhaps the answer lies with Africa and more particularly the Horn of Africa States region, which despite its ownership of vast lands for cultivation, still receives food grants/aid from institutions like the World Food Program and other NGOs.

Africa and more specifically the Horn of Africa States produces  most of its foods and all it needs is to increase production instead of relying on filling the gaps, if any, with imports from a struggling country like Ukraine. Or is it more of helping Ukraine through WFP and NGO purchases of wheat and other grains from Ukraine and then dumping them into the region? Perhaps!

The Horn of Africa States should be producing more grains and more specifically this year when the rains were much more, so far, in most parts of the region. The region has a large youthful population, which the region should redeploy towards agriculture as in the past, but this would be a much more meaningful program, instead of wars and conflicts that only help destroy the region and splinter it into almost irreconcilable parts.

Indigenous crops have better nutritional values than imported cereals and the Horn of Africa States agricultural departments should be working and investing in this sector. Better remunerations for those who work in agriculture would keep most youth in that field instead of seeking sustenance elsewhere. Prioritizing agriculture and food security for the growing population, should be one of the main pillars of all governmental plans into the future, in the region.

The Horn of Africa States is a volcanic region and most of its lands have not been touched by the hoe, tillage and seeding implements or indeed by any agricultural tool. This points to less need for fertilizers in the foreseeable future and hence less cost of production. The Horn of Africa States should not only be feeding itself but also exporting to countries that do not have the same capacity of grain production such as Arabia and Egypt, which require huge imports of wheat and other grains to keep breakfast tables full.

It is good time for the Horn of Africa States to adapt to new realities where each region would have to rely on its own food production capabilities instead of relying on imports that can be curtailed at any time by forces beyond their control. Food security should be a primary goal of the governments of the region as reliance on imports and even aid becomes ever more precarious.


1 thought on “The Horn of Africa States Grains and Food Production”

  1. The HAS have the ingredients to be self sufficient in food production to feed themselves and more. They have the land that have been conditioned or that can be developed into productive farmlands with fertilizers or otherwise. They have the workforce in tens of millions with the median age of the population being around 20. They have grand rivers and tributaries that can water massive farmlands if harnessed properly. There are have been devastating droughts in parts of the region but when did we learn/hear The Nile, Omo, Awash, Wabi Shabale rivers and their tributaries completely drying up? There were reports of these rivers getting low after years of continuous droughts but not them disappearing. So what has been missing in those countries for them to be bedeviled by acute malnutrition and famine? It has been the lack of standing peace and stability. Take the situation in Wallagaa of Western Oromia. Agriculturally it was one of the most developed part of the region be it grain or cash crops like coffee. But due to wanton violence against farmers and lack of stability once developed farmlands have now turned into degraded fallow wilderness. Those who are gripped with hatred for others and their own fellow ethnic citizens have been wreaking havoc since 2018 with no end insight. It is now reported that millions have been displaced with no hope of immediate returning home, that is if they can find the homes they left behind are still standing which is a fat chance because burning down farms and homes has been the working protocol of these bigots. Is the government partly responsible for such sad reality? To some extent, yes in a sense that it should have expected this was on the offing in 2018 and taken the proper mitigating steps. The people of that region have been harmonious and peace mongering citizens until some missionary cake addicts and sugar drunk former commies-turned-bigots began planting seeds of poisonous hatred among them. Now the same epidemic of this disease is spreading in the neighboring Amhara region. For the war mongers there is plenty of fuel/fodder; the hapless and unemployed youth in its millions. So the war goes on and with the usually productive farmland going/staying idle/fallow. That is the harbinger for starvation and deadly famine. Peace and stability does it!!! Peace y’all!!!!

    As usual, another masterpiece by Brother Dr. Suleiman.

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