The question of African food sovereignty will always cause much ink to flow without it becoming effective in the continent in the absence of mutual understanding. For this, more clarification is needed. Hoping that the Cointribune team, however modest it may be, can contribute as its name suggests.
What is “food sovereignty”?
A people’s food sovereignty is the right granted to them for better access to healthy and culturally appropriate food, obtained from healthy and ecologically sustainable methods. This right is fully acquired when it can appropriate its own food system.
This question of the cultural appropriation of food refers directly to the cuisine specific to a given group, which reflects its own values and norms or even its religion and preferences. Note however that these are subject to change, they are dynamic in nature and may change over time.
Reducing the intake of a food into a simple response to a request as the end would be wrong. People may eat well for cultural, social or religious reasons. And this is where international trade comes into play: it plays the role of facilitator of evolution.
The food culture is the kind to get rich
This notion of cultural appropriation of food does not exclude cultural exchanges. Moreover, it is from them that comes the cultural enrichment.
If we take, for example, the case of curries, these products could only have landed in London (Great Britain) through a migratory movement. Similarly, channa (chickpeas) and chapati (flat bread) would not have arrived in Nairobi (Kenya) without the settlement of Indians in this city.
Tracing the origin of certain foods becomes mission impossible without the help of technology: the affixing of labels or tags. Not only does this act contribute to educating consumers in choosing the right product, but it also creates a certain dynamic among farmers, even if this represents an additional cost.
Knowing that each cultural group has its own definition of what is good or appropriate food, this alternative will be a big step for a large part of humanity. Ecologists will be able again and again to bet on organic or local products, Muslims on halal products and Jews on kosher products.
Cryptography, guarantor of transparency and authentication
The purpose of trade is to allow people to access authentic foods that are liable to cultural appropriation. That of “crypto labeling” consists of tracing the journey of any food, from the farm to the grocery store, on the basis of a process using secure communication technology. Normally, reliable and consistent information should accompany this food.
Encrypting the labeling comes to guarantee the transparency of the certification process for products intended to break into niche markets such as halal, organic and also spit. It is through this process that people who do not know each other come together and develop mutual trust on the basis of marketing a simple commodity.
Here is a concert example of weaving a relationship from a food. An amaranth grower in Cotonou (Benin) will easily sell his products to a family located on the other side of the planet thanks to a label provided with a numerical code. For verification, consumers will only need to scan the crypto tags with their smartphone.
This initiative will now be based on blockchain technology, the one that gave birth to Bitcoin (BTC). Its adoption in the agricultural environment is beneficial for Africans, summoned to switch to the fourth industrial revolution. And it is not the current behavior of the African population that will slow down this progress. Indeed, some countries on the continent are home to households with more than two mobile phones simultaneously.
Pushed further, crypto tagging will give birth to a new form of practice in African agriculture: e-agriculture. With the democratization of mobile technology helping, we quickly expect an improvement in traceability and a reduction in labeling costs.
Produce and consume locally: e-commerce would be best suited
The strengthening of food sovereignty will certainly depend on the trend displayed by the players in international trade. In the event of dumping, for example, farmers in certain West African countries will not be able to compete, and consequently will be less motivated to produce locally.
The fact that a country has a duty to import staple foods that can easily be produced locally is totally paradoxical. It is difficult to envisage any food sovereignty in this case.
The best food security scenario would come from local production coupled with local consumption, which would be affiliated with direct purchase from farmers or groups of farmers. This promises a healthy diet, far from any form of decomposition associated with a long journey. And the local economy will be strengthened by this modus operandi.
Do not forget the role of the WHO on this. Its Trade Facilitation Agreement would do a lot for Africa, especially if the organization agrees to develop processes and procedures to promote trade on the continent.
An interdependent food sovereignty in Africa
Isolated food sovereignty does not make sense. A group or a country is supposed to constantly develop exchange relations with its counterpart(s), regardless of their form.
The case of Somali cuisine can be mentioned to better illustrate these remarks. Somalia will never be able to ward off the influence of India in its food due to its involvement in the Indian Ocean trade. The Arabian Peninsula also observes intrinsic relationships with the local community, given the strong Arab migrations that the country has experienced. And Ethiopia, with a network of commercial caravans traveling through Somalia, and Italy, a former colonizer, cannot be disconnected from its history.
To conclude, food sovereignty has not yet been acquired by Africa. Actors of all kinds are invited to move in this direction. Both the government and the farmers have their share of the mission to accomplish. Similarly, the WHO is called upon to demonstrate its involvement in order to make it effective throughout the territory. At the same time, the part of the blockchain in this dynamic is more than commendable. Its integration into the economic ecosystem will accelerate the long-awaited development.
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The blockchain and crypto revolution is underway! And the day when the impacts will be felt on the most vulnerable economy of this World, against all hope, I will say that I had something to do with it