The political economy of hunger in Zimbabwe
Shopo, Thomas D.
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The CODESRIA/UNESCO project proposal on the 'socio-economic analysis of the problem of hunger and food self-sufficiency' focuses on a largely neglected aspect of the food crisis in Africa: the nature and origin of food demand. Thus while studies now abound on the various factors constricting supply, the demand side of the problems still remains a terra incognita, so that even where it is addressed, as in studies on food self-sufficiency, it is still perceived largely in terms of how supply can be organised to satisfy demand (increased agricultural productivity) or alternatively how demand can be modified to correspond with supplies (limitation of population growth).There is also growing and widespread recognition that the prevention of hunger and malnutrition is primarily but not wholly dependent on overall food intake, and that there is a need to be concerned simultaneously with the rate of increase in food production, especially with the means by which production is increased as it is acknowledged that ceteris paribus unless there is an absorption of the rural labour force into productive employment, even a large increase in food output will leave many households with inadequate access to food supplies, so that scalar indices on nutrition and poverty cannot take us beyond the description and mapping out of the problem of hunger, whose interface is to be found at level of the 'food equation', that: "Rather than as a race between food and population, the food equation is to be viewed as a dynamic balance in individual countries between food supply and demand that depends on complex relationships among a number of interacting variables. Equilibrium in this vital food equation can range from a low one of a small increase in food supplies and little purchasing power in the hands of the poor to high levels of each". Thus at the wider macro-level, the problem of hunger cannot be separated from that of e f f e c t s of 'industrialisation', as evidenced in African countries by 'barely escapable obligation to resort increasingly to food imports'. The whole issue of how African countries can transform their social relations into capitalist relations which are viable only at the price of being seriously dependent on the importation of food at manageable prices?
Additional Citation InformationShopo, Thomas D. (1988). The political economy of hunger in Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe Institute of Development Studies, 88p.
Zimbabwe Institute of Development Studies