Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Kenyan Famine in the arid north - YouTube

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Let Us join the World vision! 40 Hour Famine 2012

Girl with singlasses in Ethiopia

Share the vision. Do the 40 Hour Famine and help kids like Burtukan in Ethiopia.
Right now, 4.5 million people in Ethiopia don't have enough to eat. Many children like Burtukan have just one piece of injera, Ethiopian flatbread, to get them through the day. 

Do the World Vision 40 Hour Famine this year and do something real to fight hunger.

The 40 Hour Famine is all about going without something important to you for 40 hours so you can understand what it's like for kids around the world who have no choice but to go without enough food. Every. Single. Day. 

The more money you raise, the more impact you can make on the lives of children and their families around the world who are living in poverty.

Go to 40hourfamine.com.au and find out how easy it is to fundraise online. You don't have to give up food - check out some of the more creative things you could give up!

Friday, May 25, 2012

ETHIOPIA: Poor rains prompt calls for more food assistance | Ethiopia | Environment | Food Security-IRIN Africa

The number of food-insecure people could increase (file photo)
ADDIS ABABA, 25 May 2012 (IRIN) - Aid agencies are calling for more food assistance for areas in southern and northeastern Ethiopia where erratic rains have adversely affected the mid-February to May `Belg’ crop.

“We have a very significant shortage of food in much of [the] `Belg’ season dependent areas of the country particularly in SNNPR, [Southern Nations, Nationalities and People's Region]” Mike McDonagh, head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Ethiopia, told IRIN.

Other affected areas include parts of the northeast in the Amhara, Oromia and Tigray regions.

The `Belg’ harvest, which accounts for up to 40 percent of annual food production in some areas, is expected to reduce in 2012 due to the late onset and below-average performance of the mid-February to May rains, which were 2-8 weeks late.

“The situation is of concern and is being monitored closely,” said Judith Schuler, spokesperson of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) in Ethiopia, adding that the number of food-insecure people could increase.

At present, an estimated 3.2 million people are food insecure in Ethiopia, down from a peak of 4.5 million during the 2011 Horn of Africa drought. Revised figures are expected in mid-July.

WFP requires US$183 million by the end of 2012, to support 2.5 million of the 3.2 million people in need of emergency food assistance.

The situation in SNNPR, which borders Kenya and South Sudan, is of particular concern.

The `Belg’ crop harvest there accounts for 35-40 percent of production, with root crops, mainly sweet potatoes, contributing 50 percent of the harvest in some districts. But the extended dry period had resulted in an almost total failure of the crop - and others such as haricot beans, potatoes and maize, which were expected to fill the food gap between March and June - according to the government’s latest (May) Early Warning and Response analysis.

Aid agencies say a lack of sufficient recovery time after the 2011 drought could aggravate the situation for vulnerable households whose assets and other coping mechanisms were depleted.

Malnutrition rising

Already, the number of malnourished people is rising, said OCHA’s McDonagh.

According to OCHA, close to 90,000 children, pregnant women and nursing mothers in SNNPR alone are moderately malnourished at present, and the number is increasing.

“March was worse than February, April was worse than March and we expect May to be worse than April,” said McDonagh. “So it gets worse for a period and then maybe around July and August... it could reduce again.”

“We need general rations, what we call relief food. We need more supplementary food. We need therapeutic foods and we need also inputs such as seeds.” 

The number of severely malnourished children in therapeutic feeding programmes is increasing, with earlier and greater increases than in 2011, according to the Agriculture Ministry’s Emergency Nutrition Coordination Unit.

For example, from January to February, admissions to the programmes increased by 15.3 percent and went up a further 27 percent from February to March. The March to April figures are not available.

According to Mitiku Kassa, Ethiopia’s minister of agriculture, the agriculture and health ministries are monitoring the food insecurity situation.

“Irregularity in rainfall seasons resulting [in] problems of such [a] kind is not a new thing to us,” Mitiku said. “We faced it last year and a year before that and we are managing it so far… The country has enough resources and mechanisms in place to deal with it this time, though.”


Also see: ETHIOPIA: Late rains threaten food security

Theme (s)EnvironmentFood Security,
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Ethiopianism, Journalist Abebe Gelaw affront Dictator Melese Zenawie at G8 conference - YouTube

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Helping Africa grow a better future | StarTribune.com

Cargill Inc. will invest in a five- to 10-year program with the government of Mozambique as part of an emerging international effort to make farming in Africa commercially successful.
The giant agribusiness based in Minnetonka is among 45 companies collectively committed to invest more than $3 billion to the NewAlliance for Food Security and Nutrition that President Obama announced Friday at a symposium on global food security.
Cargill and other multinational corporations will team with small African businesses, advocacy groups, banks, African governments and the rich, developed nations of the G8 to try to raise 50 million Africans out of poverty in the next decade. The plan envisions a slew of programs and partnerships that will help make farmers capable of feeding the continent's millions of starving and malnourished people.
More boldly, the initiative hopes to transform Africa into a major food exporter.


"History teaches us that one of the most effective ways to pull people and entire nations out of poverty is to invest in their agriculture," Obama said. "And as we've seen from Latin America to Africa to Asia, a growing middle class also means growing markets, including more customers for American exports that support American jobs. So we have a self-interest in this."
Cargill's specific role will be to increase the soybean or corn production of roughly 16,000 farmers operating on small land holdings in Mozambique. The company is still negotiating with the government and declined to say what the project will cost. The company did commit to a $1.35 million separate vocational education program in northern Mozambique farming communities.
Whatever the cost of the multiyear production improvement program, its aim stretches far beyond filling outstretched hands with charity.
"It can't simply be to grow [food] and feed people in that locale," said Michael A. Fernandez, Cargill's vice president for corporate affairs. "This isn't about subsistence. This isn't about eking by. This is really about: how do we bring them into the worldwide food chain? Hopefully, this will be run like a business so that ultimately, someday these people will export to neighboring countries and beyond."
The move into Mozambique is a first step for Cargill. The company currently employs about 5,000 people in nine other African countries in operations focused mostly on growing or processing cocoa, grain, oilseed and cotton. Cargill chose to focus its food alliance efforts on new crops in a new country as a "next logical step" to expand its African presence. Mozambique's political stability made the country an attractive place to set up shop.
"There's arable land," Fernandez said. "There are small [land] holder farmers that clearly aren't getting the yields that we believe that they can get .... We're in a position where we could buy some of this stuff from the farmers and thereby create an instant market."
That's the kind of thing that answers Obama's call for a food security strategy that makes emergency aid "less and less relevant." Officials at Cargill, which has been doing business in Africa since 1981, say they understand the need to overcome what can too easily become a culture of charity.
"Those things have been hindrances [to investment] in the past," Fernandez said. "We're optimistic. We've seen lots of change both in the countries in which we're operating, as well as in Mozambique and some other places. To the extent that this works, it will encourage us to make other investments in Africa."
In November 2011, Cargill made the largest single food gift in history to the World Food Program. It sent 10,000 metric tons of rice on a ship to the Horn of Africa and tracked it from its port of departure to the mouths of the starving. But like the president and other leaders at Friday's symposium, Fernandez drew a distinction between crisis intervention and problem-solving.
"Giving relief is great," he said. "We're still going to have to do some of that. But the real goal has to be the old story about giving people fish or giving them the tools to fish. That's really what we're about."
Jim Spencer • 202-408-2752

Ethiopianism, Obama's $3 billion in private sector pledges for For Famine and hungry at G8 - YouTube

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White House taps private sector to help feed world's hungry – USATODAY.com

WASHINGTON – President Obama vowed Friday to accelerate efforts to relieve hunger and malnutrition in Africa and unveiled as part of his plan a $3 billion commitment from multinational companies to make it easier for small farmers to grow their own food.
  • President Obama addresses the Symposium on Global Agriculture and Food Security on Friday in Washington.
    By Alex Wong, Getty Images
    President Obama addresses the Symposium on Global Agriculture and Food Security on Friday in Washington.

By Alex Wong, Getty Images
President Obama addresses the Symposium on Global Agriculture and Food Security on Friday in Washington.

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The commitment from 45 private companies outlined by Obama and African leaders gathered for the Symposium on Global Agriculture and Food Security highlights theWhite House's efforts to tap the private sector to complement existing programs. The number of people living with hunger globally has fallen slightly from its 2009 high of just over 1 billion, but 13% of the world's estimated 7 billion people still do not get enough food each day, according to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization.
"We need a new approach that challenges more nations, more organizations, more companies … to step up and play a role. Government cannot and should not do this alone," Obama said.
"I know there are going to be skeptics. There always are," he said. But he vowed, "This will remain our priority as long as I am United States president."
The corporate funding under the food initiative will be partly from African companies, with just under half of the investments coming from businesses there and the rest from other companies around the world, according to the White House. The program's goal is to promote sustainable agriculture and remove 50 million people from poverty during the next decade.
Obama noted recent investments in nutrition and agriculture in Kenya and Ethiopia prevented millions of people from needing aid during a recent drought, but he said more progress needs to be made in other parts of Africa being ravaged by famine and drought. "When tens of thousands of children die from the agony of starvation like in Somalia, that shows we still have a lot of work to do. It's unacceptable, an outrage, an affront to who we are," he said.
The companies that pledged funding in the latest round to fight global hunger include Cargill, Diageo, Swiss Re, Unilever, Monsanto and SABMiller. DuPont will invest more than $3 million over the next three years to help smallholder farmers in Ethiopia. Vodafone will assist farmers with text services to help them obtain local market prices.
Ellen Kullman, chief executive of DuPont, said in an interview that everyone involved in combating hunger needs to hold themselves accountable. "We have to measure ourselves and we have to measure collectively the progress that is made," she said.
In recent years, she said, companies, governments and aid groups have developed a better understanding of how to combat hunger, making progress to understand the local conditions and what tools can best help farmers support sustainable agriculture in their region.
"People have always known we've had a problem," she said. "I think sometimes it seems so overwhelming it's hard to know where to start."
Global efforts to improve food security gained attention four years ago when soaring food prices sparked riots and led to political instability in some parts of the world, including Haiti and Egypt.
The new program, the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, builds on a 2009 pledge by the Group of 8— leaders of the U.S.Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada and Russia — known as the L'Aquila Food Security Initiative. World leaders committed $22 billion to fight world hunger by investing in agriculture and nutrition.
Obama called on the world leaders to honor their 3-year-old pledge and vowed to "speed things up" to get the money delivered and said the United States remains committed to the $3.5 billion it promised. The initiative ends later this year, and some humanitarian groups have said much of the funds have not been doled out. The G-8 is expected to release an accountability report this weekend detailing how much of the funds is still on the sidelines.
African leaders from Ethiopia, Ghana and Tanzania expressed optimism that the announcement by the White House on Friday will help build momentum toward fighting hunger. Jakaya Kikwete, president of Tanzania, said he was "inspired" and "hopeful" and noted that for any success to occur the private sector must be involved.
"I'm seeing with the words of President Obama and the G-8 summit tomorrow the commitment that they are going to play their part as donors, helping us," he told reporters.

The Ethiopian Engima-Ben Rawlence

Mariam was painfully thin. Several of her 13 children peered out from behind her with hollow eyes. "I am trying to save my children. We are not living. We are subhuman," she told me. Food aid was available in her village in Southern Ethiopia. But not for her children. Her husband belonged to the wrong political party.
The same month I was interviewing this desperate mother in 2009, President Obama was telling Ghana's parliament that: "Africa doesn't need strongmen, it needs strong institutions." Meanwhile, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, one of Africa's longest serving strongmen, was using food aid as a weapon against opposition supporters, locking up opponents and journalists, and shutting down media and civil society organizations that reported on Ethiopia's slide into authoritarianism. In 2010, his party unsurprisingly won over 99 percent of the seats in parliament.
On May 19, President Obama will welcome Prime Minister Zenawi to the G-8 summit at Camp David to discuss food security in Africa along with the democratically elected leaders of Benin, Ghana, and Tanzania. The invitation to Meles demonstrates that whatever the Obama administration has learned from the Arab Spring, it doesn't apply to Africa. It should. Cosseting autocratic regimes rarely ends well for anybody.
Mariam wanted me to tell the world that their aid dollars were being misused. In a 2010 report, "Development without Freedom," we did. Yet the Ethiopian enigma is curious: the more repressive Ethiopia gets, the more aid it receives from Western governments. Why does a country with a human rights record rivaling those of repressive Sudan, Uzbekistan, or Zimbabwe enjoy such solid support in the U.S. and Europe?
Since the 2010 elections Meles's government has detained dozens, and possibly hundreds, of opposition members, perceived opposition supporters, and others. No one knows exactly how many people have been arrested because no independent organizations have access to all of Ethiopia's known and secret detention facilities, where torture and ill treatment are common. There are few Ethiopian human rights groups to investigate the detentions because in 2009 Ethiopia passed a law on non-governmental organizations that strangled most local human rights groups by cutting off foreign funding. And the government has regularly detained and deported journalists who try to access the embattled Ogaden region, successfully cutting off news of the situation.
Of course Ethiopia is a reliable partner on counter-terrorism and regional security and perceived to be an oasis of stability amid Eritrea, Sudan, and Somalia. Ethiopia has held terrorism suspects from Somalia and Kenya for interrogation and hosts a U.S. drone base for operations in Somalia. Ethiopia intervened in Somalia in 2006 to oust the militant Union of Islamic Courts and deployed peacekeepers in the contested region of Abyei between Sudan and South Sudan.
But the security partnership is not the only reason. Ethiopia appears to be making strong progress on meeting development goals, and donor partners such as the World Bank are anxious to sustain their "investments." Yet the proportion of the population requiring food aid remains stubbornly high and the numbers of Ethiopians fleeing the country due to repression or in search of economic opportunities they can't find at home are exploding.
As long as Ethiopia appears to be making progress toward the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals, donors seem to care little about how that progress is achieved.
Ethiopia even used some foreign-funded development programs to cement the ruling party's grip on power. As Mariam and many other people we interviewed told Human Rights Watch the ruling party discriminates against anyone it perceives as an opponent: access to donor-funded government services, food aid, housing, employment, promotions, educational opportunities, and land have all been used to encourage support for the ruling party.
The government is pursuing controversial resettlement programs, indirectly supported by foreign assistance, forcing people to leave their ancestral lands and in some cases leaving them worse off. It has also expropriated vast tracts of land and forced resettlement of indigenous communities in the Omo valley, a UNESCO World Heritage site, to make way for state-run sugar plantations.
Meanwhile the government has steadily whittled away what's left of the independent media. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, more journalists have fled Ethiopia in the last decade than any other nation.
This month, PEN American Center awarded its prestigious Freedom to Write award to Eskinder Nega, who is fast becoming Ethiopia's best-known journalist. Eskinder is in jail for the seventh time, but this time he is charged under a 2009 counterterrorism law that, so far, has primarily been used to target opposition leaders and journalists. Thirteen other journalists and opposition members have already been convicted under the law, including two Swedish journalists who attempted to report on abuses in the Ogaden region.
Before Zenawi's government deported me for reporting on the politicization of aid, Eskinder Nega told me that he thought President Obama's Ghana speech heralded a new era for democratic governance in Africa.
If Eskinder was right then, instead of inviting undemocratic leaders like Zenawi to Camp David, the Obama administration would review its approach to Ethiopia and call on the government to reverse its assault on human rights and democracy. But I fear that when Eskinder hears of the visit in his cell in Kaliti prison, he will know that his faith in President Obama's words was wrong.
Ben Rawlence is a Senior Researcher in the Africa Division at Human Rights Watch.
Follow Ben Rawlence on Twitter: www.twitter.com/BenRawlence

Thursday, May 17, 2012

G8 urged to tackle malnutrition, the hidden killer in Mozambique | Global development | guardian.co.uk

Malnutrition in Mozambique
The ingredients for tree root soup, which has no nutritional value but is a resort for families with no food. Photograph: Simon Tisdall for the Guardian
For their meal tonight, Olinda Novela and her children will dine on tree root soup. This is what they ate for breakfast, and what they will likely eat tomorrow. The soup, made from mashed wood shavings boiled in salty water, has zero nutritional value. It is a thin, brown, evil-looking gruel. But in remote, drought-stricken Mahache village, about five hours' drive north from Mozambique's capital, Maputo, there is simply no other choice.
Novela, 37, has four children still at home; another four have moved away. They are not actually starving – not yet, anyway – but they are chronically malnourished, according to visiting community health workers.
They have much in common with many other Mozambican children, with an estimated 44% of under-fives physically or mentally impaired – the technical term is stunted – because of severe malnutrition. Their weakened immune systems increase their susceptibility to malaria, HIV, and other fatal diseases.
"I am hungry. Everyone is hungry. I am hungry all the time," Novela said, standing outside her crumbling home of mud walls, wooden stakes and corrugated iron. "I feel desperate. I don't know what will happen to me and the children if it does not rain."
She says there has been no fresh food in Mahache since January. Olinda hitches her youngest, Alissi, on her hip. Alissi looks about one year old. In fact, she is 21 months. Olinda's son, Leonardo, is seven but looks like a four-year-old.
The problem extends far beyond Mahache and its scale is daunting. Experts predict that in the next decade there will be 4 million chronically malnourished children in Mozambique, which despite recent, rapid economic growth and the discovery of large natural gas deposits remains one of the world's poorest countries.
Globally, malnutrition is the key cause of the deaths of 2.6 million children each year. On present trends, the bodies and brains of an additional 450 million worldwide will fail to develop properly because of inadequate diet over the next 15 years, according to a report published by Save the Children in February.
G8 leaders including Barack Obama and David Cameron have a chance to act this week. Food security – meaning, broadly, the availability of food at all times – is high on the agenda at their annual summit at Camp David, Maryland, beginning on Friday. Before the meeting, Obama will unveil a "new alliance" initiative involving selected African countries and private sector companies. The plan entails a $1bn, 10-year effort to lift 50 million people out of food poverty through increased investment in agricultural development.
Pre-summit draft consultation documents seen by the Guardian identify six sub-Saharan African states as "vanguard countries", including Mozambique. The leaders of another three, Ethiopia, Ghana and Tanzania, whose good governance records are deemed to be better than others, have been invited by Obama to attend the summit. If the initiative flourishes, it will be extended to other countries.
"The G8 confirms the ultimate goals of improving agricultural productivity, economic growth, food security and nutritional status, and recognises and affirms the central role of women and smallholder farmers in achieving these objectives," the document says.
"Malnutrition is a hidden problem, a hidden killer," said Carina Hassane Ismael of the independent Food Security and Nutrition Association in Maputo. "It's not like a famine. It can be hard to spot because the children are not actually starving."
Increased food availability was not necessarily the solution, she said. Better food quality as well as quantity, a balanced diet, improved hygiene, stable food prices, nutrition education and the overcoming of food taboos – in parts of Mozambique, children and nursing mothers are denied eggs, an irreplaceable source of protein – were all essential to defeating the stunting epidemic, she said.
G8 action thus far has been spurred in part by the catastrophic drought and ensuing displacement and famine in east Africa and by dire warnings that a similar disaster is in the making this year in the western Sahel region, driven by high grain prices, environmental degradation and climate change. But responses to these emergencies have increased concern that endemic, long-term problems such as chronic malnutrition are not being tackled with similar urgency, and that promises to fund solutions will be broken.
"The G8 is always making plans but they don't implement them," saidRafael Uaiene, assistant professor of international development with Michigan State University, who is based in Maputo, and is a former director of Mozambique's National Agricultural Research Institute. "The trouble is, millions of dollars are committed but they never reach the ground in most cases."
Critics point to the example of the G8's L'Aquila summit in 2009, which saw $6bn in new money pledged for food security and agricultural initiatives over three years. By last July, only 22% of the money had been spent.
"It is simply not acceptable for children to be eating roots to survive or to have only one meagre meal a day. This G8 meeting must mark the beginning of the world's biggest push to end hunger," said Justin Forsyth, head of Save the Children.
"In the past year, the G8 has played its part in dramatically reducing child deaths globally and it must continue in that vein by focusing resources on the battle against malnutrition and reducing the number of children who are stunted around the world."
The aching despair felt by Olinda Novela may not be assuaged by the G8 declaration. But Mozambique's experience also shows that intervention can help dramatically if those most in need can be identified and reached in time.
In Songuene village, near Guija in the Limpopo delta, Louisa, a 44-year-old mother of eight, said community health volunteers had helped her improve her children's health. The volunteers are trained by Save the Children and equipped with motorcycle trail bikes to enable them to negotiate seemingly endless, sandy, unmade roads. "My six-year-old Miseria was unwell. She has some cuts but they did not heal. So I took her to the hospital," Louisa said. "They told me Miseria was malnourished. The health worker taught me to make porridge including nuts and oil to make enriched food. She is healthy now. I take her for regular check-ups. I tell the other mothers, I am lucky to have a community volunteer as my neighbour." In this way, in theory, word spreads.
Marcela Libombo, national co-ordinator of the government's food security and nutrition secretariat (Setsan), said the government was implementing a new plan to address child malnutrition. Setsan aims to bring down the proportion of under-fives who are stunted from 44% to 30% by 2015, and to 20% by 2020.
The plan identified vulnerable groups such as young women and stipulated better education and training on nutrition for public and health workers, Libombo said. Mozambique's efforts were supported by international NGOs and foreign governments, including Britain's Department for International Development. "We are very optimistic. We are very positive about the G8," Libombo said. But it was necessary to closely link summit initiatives to human development, she added. "If you want to invest in the future, you need to talk about people."

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

African Human Development Report 2012 - YouTube

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Why are so many Africans hungry? | GlobalPost

UN calls for Africa to increase food production to reduce malnutrition and to boost economic growth.
South kordofan 5 6 2012 1
A child from Sudan's Nuba Mountains shows signs of severe malnutrition in a feeding center at the Yida refugee camp in South Sudan. (Trevor Snapp/GlobalPost)
Why are so many Africans going hungry?
Why is the continent plagued by famines?
Right now an estimated 15 million Africans are threatened with starvation in West Africa's Sahel region including Chad, Mali, Niger, Mauritania and Burkina Faso, as well as parts of northern Senegal, northern Nigeria and Cameroon.
Last year some 50,000 to 100,000 people died in the famine that hit Somalia as well as Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Djibouti.  
These famines are occuring with regularity because too many Africans are dependent upon subsistence agriculture and are dependent upon natural rainfall and outdated agricultural methods. They need help from their governments to become more productive farmers.
That's the view of a new report from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) which was issued today in Nairobi.
It's not just the famines. Wars also create conditions where people cannot grow adequate food, such as the current situation in Sudan.
But even in peacetime, many African countries have chronically malnourished populations. Nearly 218 million people on the continent are undernourished and this number is expected to rise. The situation affects children in particular, with 55 million children malnourished, representing 40 percent of African children under five, according to the BBC.
Africa's positive economic growth, estimated to be five percent this year, cannot be sustained if a large proportion of Africa's people are going hungry, reported AP. 
“Impressive GDP growth rates in Africa have not translated into the elimination of hunger and malnutrition. Inclusive growth and people-centered approaches to food security are needed,” said UNDP Administrator Helen Clark at the launch of the report which was attended by Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki.
Chronic food deficits in sub-Saharan Africa are a result of decades of poor governance, said Tegegnework Gettu, an assistant secretary-general and regional director for the UNDP bureau in Africa.
Africa has the knowledge, the technology and the means to end hunger and food insecurity but lacks the political will and dedication, said Gettu, according to AP.
"Africa must stop begging for food. That is an affront to both its dignity and its potential," he said. "If some African countries can acquire and deploy jet fighters, tanks, artillery and other means of destruction, why should they not be able to master agricultural know-how? Why should African be unable to afford technology, tractors, irrigation, seed varieties and training needed to be food secure?"
The UNDP report calls for improved rural infrastructure and health services to farmers.
Some success stories point the way for Africa.
Malawi had been short of food for years and but within two years it produced 1.3 million ton surplus because the government rolled out a a massive seed and fertilizer subsidy program to peasant farmers. 
And Ghana has become the first sub-Saharan African country to achieve a Millennium Development Goal of halving the number of its hungry people 2015. This was achieved partly by policies which encouraged cocoa farmers to boost output.
This UNDP video shows the problem and suggests solutions.