BusinessDay
NigeriaDecides2023

AGRA calls for action to cushion food systems from shocks

A new report by the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) has called on African countries to take urgent action to urgently tackle food insecurity in the continent.

The 2022 Africa Agriculture Status report – an annual report by AGRA, emphasises the urgent need for inclusive, equitable, sustainable and resilient growth in the agricultural sector, while acknowledging intensification of major drivers of recent food insecurity trends in Africa.

The report also calls for good leadership and coordination, a need to build capacity and capabilities to address food systems, but most importantly the mobilisation of financing from both the public and private sector. The publication focuses on practical pathways to meet these ends.

The report highlights six megatrends shaping the development of agrifood systems in Africa that warrant greater attention by stakeholders.

Agnes Kalibata, AGRA’s president noted that a combination of the after-effects of the pandemic and the Ukraine conflict have led to elevation of food prices thus exacerbating food insecurity in the continent.

“The AASR22 reflects on key action areas required to tackle the most urgent and important areas in response to these challenges. There is an urgent need to repurpose food policies to address the emerging challenges affecting conditions, outcomes and behaviour of our food systems, without compromising the economic, social and environmental fundamentals,” Kalibata added.

The report examines the role of leadership in harnessing collective effort, shared responsibility, greater stakeholder engagement, as well as rallying political will, to achieve food systems transformation in Africa.

Read also: Africa Research Centre, agric stakeholders partner to promote indigenous food

Further, it presents the investment gap required to trigger and/or sustain Africa’s agro-food transformation reflecting on the requisite human, institutional and systemic capacities and capabilities that are required to achieve agro-food system transformation at scale. And, it recommends priorities for African national governments, development partners and the private sector.

“Accelerating agro-food transformation in a sustainable and inclusive way is an extremely complex task. It requires an integrated approach, which draws heavily on the cooperation of system actors, with African governments driving the process that facilitates the required change,” the report stated, adding that addressing the vulnerability of Africa’s food systems requires political will and leadership.

The AASR22 challenges African governments to assume a leadership role in food system transformation as a national security, poverty alleviation and rural development agenda that cuts across various institutions, while reducing reliance on donors who have been directing flows of international assistance. It calls for locally led integrated action that brings together key sectors of the economy that are central to food systems, including health, environment, agriculture and education, and is aligned to national needs and priorities.

“The journey toward food and nutritional security for Africa has a clear destination: zero hunger. Thanks to many strategy documents, we have reasonable consensus on the roadmap – sustainable intensification and a food systems approach. This report focuses on how we get there faster while adapting to the ever-changing terrain. Time is of the essence,” said Ed Mabaya, research professor at Cornell University and one of the authors of the AASR report.

According to the report, estimates of Africa’s investment needed to trigger and sustain agro-food transformation range from $40 billion and $77 billion every year from the public sector, and up to $180 billion in private sector funding.

“With the private sector expected to play a critical role in filling the financing gap, public sector funding is expected to play the role of de-risking and incentivising private sector capital into agriculture,” the report said.

It called for an enabling environment through investment in public infrastructure and policy and innovative financing mechanisms that are continuously recalibrated to meet evolving financial needs and circumstances.

This includes blended finance, supply chain financing through digital solutions, partial credit guarantees, risk sharing facilities, fintechs and crop receipts, among others. It notes that African countries, which currently receive less than half the resources needed to implement the continent’s climate action commitments and nationally determined commitments, need to avail climate financing to smallholder farmers and other food value chain actors.

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