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Stakeholders commit to holistic, inclusive approach to transforming African food systems

Stakeholders in the agricultural sector from across Africa renewed their commitment to adopt a more holistic and inclusive approach to food systems in Africa to better tackle hunger and poverty and improve nutrition while conserving natural resources.

The declaration was made after the 2021 AGRF summit-themed ‘Pathways to Recovery and Resilient Food Systems’ which convened more than 8,000 delegates from 103 countries.

The stakeholders called for a change in the way food is produced, processed, marketed, and consumed in Africa and for reduction of food waste and to drive food security on the continent. They advised and proposed that efforts must be targeted at boosting smallholder farmers’ productivity and driving investments in agribusiness alongside access to scale consumption of safe and nutritious food across the continent.

“We know that a failure to change will make it impossible to achieve the key sustainable development goal of ending hunger by 2030. Hunger and poverty in Africa can only end with resilient food systems,” the delegates stated in a declaration.

Speaking during the closing ceremony, Hailemariam Dessalegn, former Prime Minister of Ethiopia and board chair of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) said “This is a turning point in Africa’s agriculture. We should do things differently by taking a more integrated approach to food systems.”

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“It begins with agriculture but goes right through the business of food until it ends on our plate and in our trash. In recognising the importance of food systems and how they can drive economic growth, we must take a holistic sustainable agricultural transformation, thinking the whole way from production to consumption,” he said.

“The task of transforming our food systems is for all of us. If we all do our bit, we will make it,” he added.

Peter Munya, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries, and Cooperatives, said the summit has helped the continent recommit to the goals it set for itself, and individual countries to end hunger by 2030.

“It is possible to deliver this because we have the resources, experience, and knowledge and are mobilising the will. We need to support the young people of Africa to get involved in agriculture because there is no future without them,” Munya said.

Coming ahead of the UN Food Systems Summit, the AGRF 2021 Summit provided an opportunity to elevate Africa’s common position, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the African Union’s 2063 agenda.

This included enhancing the resilience of Africa’s food system from external shocks, its fragility having been exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking also, Agnes Kalibata, AGRA’s president said the wide representation and participation at the summit has helped clarify Africa’s position on food systems transformation.

According to her, the summit showed that Africa knows how to reduce hunger and malnutrition and tackle obesity, but we can only do this by working together.

“We need to double down and come together to fix our broken food systems and meet the [SDG} goal of zero hunger by 2030. It is only by working together that we can help deliver food security and prosperity for people and our planet,” Kalibata said.

The summit featured commitments on renewable energy, youth and women empowerment, and the establishment of value chains.

It also led to the building of the emerging coalition of action for Decent Work and Living Incomes and the 43 game-changing solutions, representing a coordinated African voice, that is being taken to the UNFSS.

The summit gathered consensus on the role of youth and women, as well as innovative technology to revitalise agricultural productivity and support farmers to build back better from effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, to feed the growing population.

During the summit, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) was named 2021 Africa Food Prize laureate, for its work in improving food security across 13 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Africa Agriculture Status Report 2021 was also launched, indicating that sub-Saharan Africa has had the fastest growth in agricultural production since 2000.

Jennifer Baarn, acting managing director at the AGRF reaffirmed the forum’s commitment to advancing the actions towards 2030 to help identify pathways towards sustainable food systems in the continent.

“We will be taking all the threads of prosperity, people, and the planet that have run through this summit and thinking about how that shapes our future work,” she said.

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