In this first lecture, we're going to look at food security in Africa and see how agriculture fits into the broader food security picture. We'll start off by looking at Africa's progress on food security and then how climate intersects with food security itself. It's pretty much self-evident that food security is critical for human well-being. So, it's no surprise that eradicating hunger has been a priority of both the millennium development goals and the new sustainable development goals. The World Food Program defines food security as when people have availability and adequate access, at all times, to sufficient, safe and nutritious food, to maintain a healthy and active life. When talking about food security, experts often mention three pillars. The first pillar is availability. This really talks to there being sufficient food available on a consistent basis. That availability can either come through local production and storage of that local produce or food that's brought in from elsewhere, perhaps by trade or even by aid. The second pillar is access. This describes the need for people to be able to access food when it's available. This can either be through having their own food available or through having money available to buy food or through bartering to exchange goods, other goods for food. The third pillar is around utilization. This really talks to you using the food for nutritional benefit. So, if you have food in your kitchen, how do you cook it? How you prepare it? Is it the right mix of nutrients reach your body so to speak? Do all the people in the household get the nutrition that they need? People sometimes talk about stability as a fourth pillar. This rarely talks to all of those three previous pillars being consistent in time. So, food is available in time, there is no period when food isn't available, it's accessible all the time and it's utilized in a consistent manner throughout the year. Food security is really a function of the food systems. Food systems are the mix of production, transport, storage, trade and utilization that deliver foods eventually to people's tables. If we look at Africa's progress on achieving food security, it's been much slower than many other parts of the world. Many in Africa remain food insecure. So, if we look at dietary energy, for instance, the food required to satisfy dietary energy needs, it has been, those who don't have, it has been reduced from 33 percent to 25 percent since 1990. But that still means that a quarter of the population are undernourished in Africa. The reasons for this insecurity are varied. It's partly due to the nature of the food systems in Africa but also because of broader socio-economic conditions in African continent. If we look at rural food systems, most of the rural population are dependent on their own food for production. They're small farmers, there's often subsistence farmers, so they have to produce their own food and then if there are shortages due to food production, that hits them most directly. The problem in a lot of Africans small farms is that they're not that productive, this is partly because of the environment within which farming is happening, so soils and climates as well as a shortage of inputs such as fertilizer and perhaps equipment. So, it's difficult for farmers to produce sufficient food to feed their families and to produce a surplus to see themselves through the dry seasons when food isn't being produced. Then, it's hard for them to access alternatives. Most of these farmers and households are very poor, and so they can't afford to buy food when locally produced food isn't available. In urban areas, access is much more about price and availability. So, is there food available in the stores and can people afford to buy it? For many of the urban poor, it's the price that's the critical factor effecting food security. Moving on to look at how food security is influenced by weather and climate. Production is most directly affected, so that's production on farms that are produced into the food system. This is partly because of average climatic conditions that occur in particular places that controls what can be farmed and how productive it is. So, for example, for maize, you need at least 300 millimeters of rainfall in the growing season to produce maize. Ideally, to get high yields, about 500 millimeters. So, for a farmer who's trying to grow maize in a marginal area where there's only 300 millimeters of rainfall, the productivity will be very low. Then you can also have variability within the season that affects the yields for a particular season. So, if you have a dry period in the season, that could affect the flowering of a particular crop that would then lead to lower yields. Extreme events also impact on production. These are events that produce drought but also hail, wind and heat damage. For instance, if you can imagine a hail storm wiping out a whole crop in the field that to then make that rural family food insecure for the rest of that particular year. The climate also affects food availability in other ways. One of the main mechanisms is through prices. If we look at the 2015 to 2016 drought in Southern Africa, the price of maize nearly doubled because of the low production within the region and the need to import maize from overseas, at a much more expensive price. Climate can also affect the transport systems that move food around the African continent. So, many African roads, particularly in rural areas, become almost impossible in the wet season which then makes the delivery of food from outside of a particular area particularly difficult.