Courtesy Reuters

The most intractable food problem facing the world in the 1980s is the food and hunger crisis in sub-Saharan Africa-the poorest part of the world. Although the crisis follows by less than a decade the prolonged drought of the early 1970s in the Sahelian states of West Africa, the current dilemma is not caused by weather. Nor is the chief problem imminent famine, mass starvation, or the feeding and resettling of refugees. Improved international disaster assistance programs can avert mass starvation and famine and assist with refugee resettlement.

Rather, Africa's current food crisis is long term in nature and it has been building up for two decades; blanketing the entire subcontinent are its two interrelated components-a food production gap and hunger. The food production gap results from an alarming deterioration in food production in the face of a steady increase in the rate of growth of population over the past

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  • Carl K. Eicher is Professor of Agricultural Economics and Director of the African Rural Economy Program at Michigan State University. He has worked and traveled widely in Africa for 20 years. He is coeditor of Agriculture in Economic Development, Growth and Development of the Nigerian Economy, and coauthor of "Research on Agricultural Development in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Critical Survey."
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