African Governments Must Act to Address Food Insecurity, Soaring Prices: Jesuit Department

Some basic food items. Credit: JENA

Officials of an entity of the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar (JCAM) are calling on African governments to take action to address the challenge of food insecurity and the rising prices of foodstuff. 

In a report published Wednesday, April 27, the leadership of the Jesuit Justice and Ecology Network – Africa (JENA), a department of JCAM, says while food prices have increased globally, African governments need to insulate their respective citizens against the hikes because “food insecurity could be the spark that ignites the tinderbox.”

More effective and coordinated action is required to assist the most vulnerable populations in dealing with the drastic and immediate increases in their food bills, as well as to assist farmers in meeting the rising demand for agricultural products,” JENA officials say. 

They add that the current food prices, which have impacted thousands of households across the developing world, have “once again highlighted the critical need for governments to strengthen their safety net mechanism to guarantee that rising food prices do not lead to an increase in poverty rates.” 

JENA officials further say that the unprecedented food crisis in Africa also provides an opportunity to address the root causes of food insecurity on the continent “by developing food and agricultural systems that are less reliant on external shocks, as well as more productive and efficient local agriculture, with a focus on the consumption of local food products.”


In the JENA report published April 27, officials of the Jesuit entity say one of the ways that African governments can address food insecurity is by placing a greater emphasis on safeguarding domestic producers’ and suppliers’ economic and social interests by promoting the national, regional and continental level structures and policies.”

They say lawmakers should consider “tariff and non-tariff barriers to intra-African trade between net food exporters and importers”

JENA officials add that the agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area lays a solid foundation for tariff and non-tariff barriers.

“Local markets cannot be destroyed as a result of globalization,” the Jesuit officials say, and add that innovations throughout the food supply chain need to be encouraged and rewarded. 

“Africa is home to a plethora of start-ups that are at the forefront of developing climate-resilient crops, high-yielding but sustainable agriculture and aqua cultural produce, and reimagining the food supply chain,” JENA officials say in their April 21 report. 

More in Africa

They continue, “The transformative potential of start-ups and other entities that create positive disruption should be harnessed, and avenues for funding and capital should be opened to such businesses.”

JENA officials further urge African governments to strive to establish partnerships with the private sector “as levers for achieving their developmental plans through financing and innovation in the food systems.”

They explain, “Engaging the private sector has proved over time to promote welfare through job creation; however, legislative frameworks should protect small scale holders from land grabbing and other harmful impacts associated with large-scale investments.”

African governments, they go on to say, “should seek bilateral and multilateral agreements to support their developmental plans in funding their flagship projects without creating an unnecessary burden on their citizens through heavy taxation and other trade policy measures that end up in market distortions.”

JENA officials say the Vegetable Basket program in China demonstrates the role of the government in building a resilient food system in coordinated response with other private organizations.


Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.