The place of Food Security has not been top on the agenda for discussion. It is therefore one for deeper consideration especially at this time of a deliberate forum for peace.
Although national security has long been recognized as a notoriously ambiguous phrase, experts agree it is anything that threatens to degrade the quality of life of a people, whether from domestic or foreign sources. While the term, national security, conjures up images of the military and arms, there is increasing concern over threats from non-military sources. U.S President Harry S. Truman rightly said “national security does not consist of an army, a navy, and an air force. It rests on a much broader base; a sound economy”.
A popular adage says “a hungry man is an angry man”. Yes, that we agree is not just relevant to the concept of stomach infrastructure, a deed for a gainful purpose/ reason, but emphasizing that it is the most basic need of life. U.S. Representative McGovern (D-MA), reacting to how cuts to food programs affect America’s national security, said “food issue isn’t a question of charity. It’s an issue of national security.” He asked, “What now happens when desperate people can’t find or afford food and the anger that comes from people who see no future for their children except poverty and death?” The answer is evident in the internal instability that rocked over 40 nations in 2007/2008; leading to the overthrow of some democratically elected governments. Food security is now increasingly being recognized as a nation’s first defense against anarchy and revolutionary conflicts.
Affirming his belief in peace as a precursor of development, Nigeria’s President Buhari in ”Africa Day 2020,” commemorated by the African Union Commission in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), said Africa has given the world a new hope by choosing the theme” Silencing the Guns in the context of the COVID-19” for this year’s Africa Day; a theme quite topical and timely. He reiterated the inseparable connection between peace and development; stating that peace, security, unity, and harmony are prerequisites for development in Africa. Describing peace as vital for sustainable development, he urged citizens all over the continent to innovate on how silencing the guns can be used to achieve peace and grow African economies. He believes that Africa can attain the height of its development without the use of guns.
This agrees with Dwight D. Eisenhower’s statement that “beyond a wise and reasonable level, money spent on arms may be money wasted. National security requires far more than military power. Economic and moral factors play indispensable roles. Any program that endangers our economy could defeat us”, he concluded.
Most countries that came to terms with this early have embraced and prioritize food security beyond national security. World power, USA, has rapidly elevated food security from the portfolio of mere national security to the rank of national priority. Former US Vice President Biden says “Investments made to ward off food insecurity and prevent its recurrence can prevent the vicious cycles of rising extremism, armed conflict and state failure that can require far larger commitments of resources down the road.” America’s then-Secretary of State and 2016 presidential candidate, Hilary Clinton, “ending hunger is not only possible, but it is both a moral and strategic imperative.” For her, “food security is not just about food. It is about security”. For most African countries, Nigeria inclusive, it is a double delight – the absence of external threat and ‘agriculture, the foundation of our economy’.
Revisiting the International Encyclopaedia of 1968, national security is defined as “the ability of a nation to defend its internal values from external threats.” African nations need to defend their internal values against internal threats. Solutions to issues that could cause national trepidation and threaten internal disquiet can be found within the food sector. Food security is consequently our arsenal for internal stability and national security.
Still, how well food security functions as a tool for national security depends on how well the policies are stretched to impact on social issues, using the food sector as the provocateur of “life chain”. The foundation piece of agriculture is the mirroring of the status of the citizens. All things are floored when the foundation is weak or shaky. What issues are threatening us and endangering our economic growth and development? Speaking in the Feeding the Future forum, Hillary Clinton emphasizes the significance of food in national stability. To her “if you want to know how stable a country is, do not count the number of advanced weapons, count the number of malnourished children. So far, in most essential areas, there is a stillbirth. The provocateur is wobbling and the output is shaky too. We must define the basics very carefully to get every other thing right.
However, most exciting and interesting is its potential attribute of the food sector, and the food security program has a preventive approach to health, support for curative measures, and sustainability. It’s immense support for the massive reduction of maternal and child mortality through the elimination of malnutrition, a strong pillar of economic support.
On its own, the World Health Organization says attainment of development goals is predicated on the eradication of malnutrition, which the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations calls the determinant of development. Yet, Peter Katona 1 & Judith Katona 2 say the political ideology of the ruling government and its commitment to preventing infectious disease and malnutrition affects the health of its entire population. These are areas of massive disquiet/ concern; heightened by the present health crises. We need to have fresh insight into how the economy must be fine-tuned. We need to set out a proper foundation and platform for a viral, strong, and progressive continent during this pandemic and also post the Covid-19 pandemic. First attainment of peace at the continental level without the use of arms as was advocated at the African Peace Conference; foremost if Africa should have a major relief to tackle her expanded challenges. It is a never too late issue; one of practical urgent day to day exigency.