A new way of processing cowpeas brings affordable nutrition to children. As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, its complex connections with food security are developing too.
Lockdowns have disrupted livelihoods and trade. Food prices have increased. The World Food Programme estimates that over 270 million people are at risk of food insecurity around the globe – an increase from 135 million at the beginning of 2020.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation’s Committee on World Food Security has also noted the impact of the pandemic on hunger in low-income countries that rely on food imports.
About half of Africa’s population is estimated to be food insecure, according to McKinsey, though it also notes that “the continent’s agricultural and food systems retain some resilience” thanks to some recent strong harvests.
The pandemic has re-emphasised the need for policies that reduce reliance on food imports, protect local food systems and create local employment opportunities.
Countries need to support producers of nutritious foods that are suitable for local environments and accessible to the poor.
Examples of this kind of food are cowpeas and sorghum grains, which are both indigenous to many African countries. I conducted research into how they can be made into a nutritious ready-to-eat meal for young children.
Indigenous foods in local food systems
Indigenous and naturalised crops have the advantage of being suited to growing in a particular environment. Traditions develop around the preparation and serving of food made from these crops.
Sorghum and cowpeas are important crops with multiple food uses. Sorghum is the fifth most important cereal crop in the world and the most grown cereal in sub-Saharan Africa, after maize. Cowpeas are a pulse type of legume like common beans.The full article is for subscribed members only. To view the full article please subscribe. It’s FREE!Log In Register