Editor's Note [Volume 19 No. 3 (2019)]

What shall we eat tomorrow?

“Before I proceed, I wish to pay tribute to our departed friend, Dr Gospel O. Omanya of AATF. Gospel was a great human being with a big heart for humanity and an infectious smile for everyone even when he was sick, a great scientist, a friend to many and a family man who has left his wife Juliet and 3 young boys. We pray for strength and comfort from above. He had already been to see our farmers in the field in western Kenya as we embarked to collaborate on his latest project TAAT. He had spent 3 hours in my office talking about the upcoming collaboration and so much else as he stayed positive that this journey of trying to solve Africa’s hunger is getting somewhere. He was very keen that we begin to highlight what has worked; that it is not all dark and gloom. GOSPEL, stay well where you are. You will be missed. Please see the official announcement from Dr Dennis Kyetere, CEO of AATF”.

TThere are scholars who are virtually obsessed with how 9 billion people will be fed in the year 2050.This is taking into account the fact that in some regions of the world, population growth is faster than food productivity and economic growth. They are also keen that this message reaches everyone on the planet. Yet in one forum I was telling them that a poor "mama" at the grassroots level with a small plot of land is more worried about what will be dinner for her family rather than about how so many people will be fed in the future. So, if we want the lady to help in the efforts aimed at saving mother nature, she has to be convinced that her actions today do impact the rest of the world and in the very near future, and that her children will be amongst those that will be affected fairly adversely.

Also, we should know that it is not the poor who spoil the environment: those who lumber do because they cut down vast amounts of the forest for business; the poor only collect little to build their small houses, and to use in the home for cooking. When we deny the poor access to the forest we deny them access to micronutrients and to medicines derived from wild fruits, roots, stems, leaves and barks.

Then there are these high-profile international meetings which the poor do not attend. We sign off on them, come up with protocols which the poor must adhere to, abide by, yet they were not there during those negotiations, nor does anyone offer them alternative sources of food or medicine.

I recall whenever we were invaded by locusts, they would devour anything green they came across. We would then roast the locusts and eat them.

Later, they were sprayed with chemicals so we could not eat them. What a good source of macro and micro nutrients they were. Well, I am aware that we still eat insects in western Kenya, and that insects are already being bred in special places for human consumption.

As I grew up also, men went to hunt for wild birds and animals and would bring home for family consumption. The sea provided fish, and other water animals, edible plants and algae. One of our commentaries is by a young upcoming scholar from Ghana: Abenaa Akyaa Okyere writes on THE ROLE OF EDIBLE INSECTS IN PROMOTING HEALTHY NUTRITION AND ENSURING FOOD SECURITY IN GHANA. It makes very good reading. She argues that stigma has contributed a lot to the failure to popularize insects as a food in Ghana. Maybe it is the same in the rest of Africa.

Yet, they have become a delicacy in parts of Europe and ideally, some consumers would rather eat insects that beef in the hope of demonstrating that they are environment conscious. How about the idea of consuming laboratory produced food, so we can spare the earth?

There is a lot to ponder here.

Ruth K. Oniang'o
Editor-in-Chief, AJFAND