A matter of survival

Thursday, 2021-05-06 18:22:24
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Men load sacks of rice among other food aid in a truck, to be distributed to those affected by procedures taken to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Abuja, Nigeria April 17, 2020. (Photo: Reuters)
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NDO – US$17 billion is the amount development partners have pledged to fund to ensure food security in Africa, considered a vital matter for the continent.

This is also a goal strongly promoted by the United Nations (UN), in the context of the negative impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and conflicts which have exacerbated poverty in Africa, negatively affecting the goal of sustainable development globally.

A two-day high-level dialogue – “Feeding Africa: leadership to scale up successful innovation” recently hosted by the Africa Development Bank (AfDB) and the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), in partnership with the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) as well as the CGIAR System Organization, attracted the participation of many African leaders.

The forum aimed to promote the food security agenda in acontinent where about 246 million people are falling into starvation. Strong and responsible political leadership, policy reform, investment in research, technology and innovation are essential to help Africa transform its farming systems and increase crop yields, all contributing to ensuring food security.

In fact, the agribusiness platform launched two years ago in Africa has enabled the transfer of drought-tolerant wheat varieties and increased yields in Africa, but many people are still lacking food. Africa needs to scale up agriculture to feed its 1.4 billion people.

In order to realise their food security goals, African leaders have pledged to eradicate hunger and malnutrition, which both hinder socio-economic progress in the continent. The AfDB has pledged US$10.4 billion in funding over five years to strengthen the value chain of agriculture and food production.

The IFAD pledged to provide U$$1.5 billion to support national efforts to transform food and agricultural systems over the next three years. The Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA) has committed up to US$1.5 billion for the period 2020-2024 in terms of agriculture.

The Islamic Development Bank Group said it would earmark US$3.5 billion for developing the agriculture sector in Africa over the next three years. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, joining a coalition of development partners in 2019, declared it would invest US$310 million over the next three years.

In addition, 17 African heads of state signed acommitment to boost agricultural production by doubling current productivity levels through the scaling up of agro-technology, investing in further access to markets, and promoting agricultural research and development.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) once warned of emergency food insecurity in 20 countries, including many in Africa. More than 260 non-governmental organizations recently signed an open letter calling on governments to donate US$5.5 billion to help the tens of millions of people facing hunger.

African countries’ promotion of agricultural transformation is seen as the key to hunger eradication and poverty reduction and is also part of a joint global effort to help 34 million people worldwide escape hunger this year. If the number of hungry people is not stopped in time, progress towards achieving the UN's sustainable development goals will surely be pushed back.