magassy1_Billy MutaiSOPA ImagesLightRocket via Getty Images_africa farmer Billy Mutai/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The EU Is Fueling Hunger in Africa

Africa is becoming a new COVID-19 epicenter. Unless the European Union urgently rethinks its protectionist trade policies, a sharp uptick in food insecurity will turn the COVID-19 crisis into a catastrophe.

BANJUL – Africa is becoming a new COVID-19 epicenter. In the recent weeks, South Africa reported a 60% increase in natural deaths, suggesting a higher COVID death toll than reported. And the World Health Organization recently warned that cases are proliferating across Sub-Saharan Africa, including my country, The Gambia. Unless the European Union urgently rethinks its protectionist trade policies – beginning with the Common Agricultural Policy – a sharp uptick in food insecurity will turn the COVID-19 crisis into a catastrophe.

The CAP subsidizes European farmers to the tune of €42 billion ($50 billion) annually, thereby giving them an unfair advantage in foreign markets, such as Africa. As a report released by the NGO network Coordination SUD last year showed, such subsidies, together with the abolition of market-regulation mechanisms (such as milk quotas), have strengthened EU producers’ ability to export agricultural products at low prices to markets in the Global South.

Such policies distort markets, destabilize developing-country economies, and destroy livelihoods. For example, the CAP has devastated agricultural production in West Africa, particularly for wheat and milk powder. And the problem extends far beyond Africa: local industry and agriculture in Caribbean and Pacific countries have been undermined as well.

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