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Former UN official calls out failing African Green Revolution: Replacing Hunger with Malnutrition

by Tim Wise

It’s been nearly fifty years since Frances Moore Lappé reminded us in her seminal work, Diet for a Small Planet, that hunger is not caused by a scarcity of food, it is caused by a scarcity of power. Economist Amartya Sen won a Nobel Prize more than twenty years ago for showing that famine was rarely caused by a lack of food.

Yet, here in 2020, with the world well aware of the twin dangers of hunger and malnutrition, there was Agnes Kalibata, the leader of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), telling an online audience that poor, hungry countries can’t think about diet diversity, “it’s a luxury.”

The comments earned a sharp response from Jomo Kwame Sundaram, the Malaysian economist whose most recent post was Assistant Director General at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

“A popular and persistent misconception is that it is necessary to first overcome dietary energy undernourishment before addressing malnutrition,” he wrote in his column for InterPress Service.


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