Qatar may be one of the richest countries in the world, but it has something in common with its African counterparts – food insecurity.
In a major endorsement for investment in women - the bulk of food growers in the developing world - United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said food security could not be achieved without women, and that the world's hungry also needed leaders to prioritise actions.
Reporting that the worst of the food crisis in the Sahel region of Africa appears to have been averted, the United Nations’ top official on the area, David Gressley, warned on Wednesday that the potential passing of the immediate emergency should not divert international attention from what needs to be done in 2013, which he calls a critical year for building resilience in the region.
Humanity's ability to feed itself is in serious doubt as climate change takes hold on land in the form of droughts and extreme weather, as well as on the world's oceans.
Investment in rural infrastructure and support for Africa's millions of small-scale farmers have increased in the past decade. But as these farmers begin to see increased yields, the question of better access to markets comes to the fore.
African leaders should take note of the lessons learned from the Arab Spring and realise that ensuring good governance and food security will avoid crises on the continent, says Kofi Annan, chairman of the Africa Green Revolution Alliance.
If women had equal access to productive farming resources, they could increase their yields by 20 to 30 percent and potentially raise total agricultural output in developing countries by 2.5 to four percent.
As the world searches desperately for ways to boost food production by at least 70 percent by 2050 to feed an increasingly hungry planet, many are looking to Africa as the place where a large part of this potential can be realised, mainly for its huge portion of arable land.
Chad has more than 400,000 square kilometres of arable land, but poor rainfall and a reliance on basic agricultural techniques have left the country with a grain deficit in the past two years. The government is turning to mechanisation in a bid to improve harvests.
A group of smallholder farmers in Mali have turned to the courts to try to recover land they say they have lost to big private investors. The legal action comes as foreign investors are losing interest in Mali due to political instability and an armed rebellion in the north.
Three years ago, the residents of the semi-arid Yatta district in Kenya’s Eastern Province lived on food aid due to dwindling crops of maize that could not thrive because of the decreased rainfall in the area.
That was until a local bishop, trying to find ways to prevent mothers from forcing their teenage daughters into prostitution, changed everything.
The seeds were sown, and the harvest is beginning to come in. Burkina Faso farmers are reaping the benefits of their government's programme to develop and popularise improved varieties of maize.
Small-scale irrigation schemes can provide the biggest opportunity for boosting food security in Africa, according to Meredith Giordano, the research director at the International Water Management Institute.
Mohamed Ceesay, a 20-year-old farmer from the Central River Region in the Gambia, is a high school dropout. But thanks to an initiative to discourage local youths from emigrating to Europe, he earns almost half the salary of a government minister from his rice harvest.
Eight years ago Kenbesh Mengesha earned an uncertain income collecting firewood from local government forests and selling them to her fellow slum-dwellers in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She would earn on average about 50 cents a day, if she was lucky.