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Saturday, September 30, 2023
ROME, May 4 2023 (IPS) - Some days ago in Rome, the Italian taxi driver switched on the radio during a longish ride through the usual traffic jam. Music, gossip, and the hourly news bulletin. All of a sudden, the man strongly hit the steering wheel. “They are stupid, those bastards…,” he shouted.
“These useless politicians speak every now and then about the need for solidarity with Africa…, blah, blah, blah,” he added. “But the solution is easy, very easy, even the most stupid can see it.”
According to the taxi driver, “the solution is that the government sends to Africa our retired engineers, agronomists, university professors… to teach Africans how to farm.”
History tells us that Africans were among the first farmers on Earth, and that they knew –and still know– what to plant, when, where and how. And that one of Africa’s biggest deserts, the Sahara used to be one of the greenest areas in the world.
Now that this vast continent –the second largest after Asia– home to around 1.4 billion humans, is experiencing unprecedented hunger, malnutrition, undernourishment and death, outsider technology moguls have now come out with another “easy solution”: the digitalisation of farming…
Those moguls, and the world’s largest organisations, including the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the United Nations, insisting that what poor farmers need is to use devices such as smartphones and computers, and download apps that tell them what to farm, when, where, how, and with which inputs. They call it “transformation.”
Meanwhile, they do not hesitate to attribute to the condemnable war in Ukraine the tsunami of poverty and famine that have been for years and even decades striking the most impoverished humans, saying that that proxy war stands behind such a horrifying situation, or at least that it heavily contributes to dangerously worsening it.
Africa before Ukraine’s war
Here are some key factors to be taken into consideration:
Such concentration is so intense that, in his recent article: The War in Ukraine Triggers a Record Increase in World Military Spending, IPS journalist Thalif Deen reported that “The United Nations has warned that the February 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine has threatened to force up to 1.7 billion people — over one-fifth of humanity — into poverty, destitution and hunger.”
And that “Long before the war, Ukraine and Russia provided about 30 percent of the world’s wheat and barley, one-fifth of its maize, and over half of its sunflower oil. But the ongoing 14th-month-old war has undermined– and cut-off– most of these supplies.”
Also that “Together, the UN pointed out, their grain was an essential food source for some of the poorest and most vulnerable people, providing more than one-third of the wheat imported by 45 African and least-developed countries (LDCs), described as “the poorest of the world’s poor.”
All these key factors are extraneous to Africa… all of them!
Perhaps what Africa deserves most is a just reparation for the long decades of exploitation by its former European colonisers –now giant private corporations–, and a fair compensation for the devastating damage caused by their induced climate emergencies and so many other extraneous causes.
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