Researchers in Africa have been challenged to begin to use the research they have developed to provide solutions to Africa’s challenges in agricultural productivity.
Zambia Vice President Mutale Nalumango says that there are far too many researchers but very few in terms of tangible solutions to Africa’s challenges. In her keynote address at the 14th Africa Day for Food and Nutrition Security (ADFNS) and commemoration of the 19th Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP), the Vice President called for a relook on how to ensure that there is the availability of safer and nutritious foods, that are available, accessible, “affordable and desirable for improved health and well-being of all people on the continent.”
While quoting the 2023 State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World Report, the Zambian Vice President expressed concern on the state of food and nutrition security on the African continent which she said shows that while significant progress has been recorded in addressing hunger, poverty and food security over the years, “there is an increase in the number of hungry people who are barely managing a meal in a day.”
Nalumango said that due to the high vulnerability to shocks and disruptions arising from conflict, climate variability as well as economic contraction, Africa has been recording increasing numbers of stunting and wasting, “the situation is further worsened by demographic changes, urbanization and shifting consumption patterns,” she said and added, “these factors, combined with growing inequities, keep challenging the capacity of national agri-food systems to deliver nutritious, safe and affordable diets for all.”
She called for a paradigm shift if Africa is to attain the target of ending hunger by 2025, on the continent under the Malabo declaration, “this calls for political will as well as technical and financial commitments to accelerate the implementation of food and nutrition security interventions in Africa,” said the Vice President.
Speaking on the theme of the meeting, “Accelerating the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement in the context of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) commitments for safer and healthier diets,” Nalumango said that the AfCFTA presents opportunities to develop Africa’s food basket to feed its people with possible surplus for the export market, attained through increased agricultural food production, productivity, easy movement of goods and food products, regional integration of food systems as well as diversification and value addition to food products, while supporting increased incomes among smallholder farmers.
She called for the need to collectively harness science, innovation, and research to enhance food and nutrition security, “this includes increasing investments in research and development by advancing technologies and innovations for healthier food environments while increasing the availability and affordability of nutritious foods,” she said and added that, “We must strengthen institutional capacities by building competencies, knowledge systems as well as partnerships so that Africa attains economic growth as well as job and wealth creation in member states.”
She warned that the persistent burden of malnutrition has far-reaching consequences on the physical, mental, and cognitive development of the African people, “especially the African child, hence the need to make malnutrition not only a public health issue, but also a human right, political, and economic development concern,” she added.
She called on the African continent to commit to the principles of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) taking into account emerging issues that affect the continent and the world at large.