A full-scale Africa-led agrifood systems transformation will not be possible without game changing solutions, greater investments in smallholder farmers, embracing new technology and new partnerships at all levels.
Those were some of the takeaways from a high-level special event held on the sidelines of the UN Food Systems Summit +2 Stocktaking Moment on Africa’s food sovereignty and resilience, organized by the Interdepartmental Task Force on African Affairs (IDTFAA).
Representatives from governments, the UN, the African Union and others, exchanged views on how to seize momentum for the Africa-led transformation of agrifood systems – the entire food production industry from farm to fork – to make them more efficient, more inclusive and more resilient.
The FAO Director-General, QU Dongyu, praised Africa’s strengths underpinned by its human and natural resources, adding that to unleash its full potential, the continent needs game-changing action.
He said investing in social development – in particular youth, women and smallholder farmers – was a key priority.
He also highlighted the need for a shift towards digital agriculture in the continent, noting that FAO has launched the 1000 Digital Village Initiative.
Mohammed stressed sustainability
Speaking at the event, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed discussed sustainable investments to build food sovereignty in Africa and the need for strengthening domestic resources, investing in climate action, and fixing the global financial architecture.
The deputy UN chief also delivered remarks to an event headlined, Healthy and Protected Oceans, underscoring the urgency of defending marine environments and coastal ecosystems.
“Pollution, overfishing, over-exploitation, acidification and the impacts of climate change and increasing sea surface temperatures disrupt the ocean’s vital functions, imperil biodiversity, and deplete its resources that are vital for people and planet alike.”
She said the challenges facing the ocean combined with economic and environmental burdens within small island nations, representing an “immediate threat”.
“For vulnerable people, the effects are all too immediate. For example, between June and September 2022, nearly 94 percent of small island developing states faced food inflation levels above five percent, with many experiencing inflation in the double digits.”
She stressed that was simply putting nutritious food out of reach, impacting children, women and those below the poverty line most of all.
“Together, let us recognize the urgency of protecting our oceans and coastal ecosystems, safeguarding the future of food systems in small island developing states, and forging a path towards a more sustainable and equitable world that benefits all people.”