This piece originally appeared on IFPRI.org .
By: Julie Kurtz
By: Sara Gustafson
In the wake of the 2008 food price crisis, many policymakers and development practitioners shifted their focus toward enhancing the capacity and resilience of domestic food value chains. In West Africa, this new focus centered on rice. Since rice constitutes a leading staple food source in the region, it was hoped that increased investment in this area would increase domestic rice production and reduce reliance on imports, thus improving food security.
An estimated 73 million people in Africa faced acute levels of hunger and food insecurity in 2019, according to the 2020 Global Report on Food Crises, released this week. The continent accounted for 54 percent of the global total of severely food-insecure people. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread around the world, developing countries in the region will likely see even further disruptions to food access. These disruptions will compound existing food crises and potentially create new ones.