The leaders of African nations have been urged to coordinate domestic and external initiatives to tackle the continent-wide issue of food security.
This charge to African leaders is part of the 2022 Africa Agriculture Status Report (AASR22) which was released on Tuesday at the ongoing Africa Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) Summit. This year’s AGRF Summit – themed “Accelerating African Food Systems Transformation” – is being held in Kigali, Rwanda.
AASR22 is an annual publication by Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) which focuses on emerging issues on the continent.
In 2021, the report focused on the resilience of Africa’s food systems and the value of sustaining this resilience.
This year, the report’s primary attention has shifted toward major food insecurity trends in Africa, and the need for good leadership and coordination in order to foster inclusive, equitable, sustainable and resilient growth in the agricultural sector.
The report identifies six megatrends shaping the development of agrifood systems in Africa that call for more attention by stakeholders:
• Rural population growth and resultant rising land scarcity.
• Rising urban populations and increasing food demand.
• Economic transportation.
• Climate change and increasing occurrence of extreme weather events.
• Shocks from global health crises, economic disruptions and conflicts.
• Accelerated pace of technical innovation in digital agriculture.
“Without transformative change, African food systems will continue to slow down human development and we will continue our overdependence on food imports…The character of Africa’s food systems continues to evolve in response to these drivers, and so should be the nature of food policies and investment strategies,” said Dr Ed Mabaya, co-author of the report and research professor at Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
The report assesses the role of leadership in harnessing collective effort, shared responsibility and employing political will, to achieve food systems transformation in Africa. Additionally, it recommends priorities for African 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 states.
AGRA President, Dr Agnes Kalibata noted that the recent increase in food insecurity in Africa is as a result of the Ukraine conflict as well as the residual effects of the pandemic.
“The AASR22 reflects on key action areas required to tackle the most urgent and important areas in response to these challenges. There is 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,” said Kalibata.
“This report focuses on how we get there faster while adapting to the ever-changing terrain. Time is of the essence…The future of nearly 1.5 billion Africans depends on the actions and decisions we make today,” Mabaya appealed.
The report also highlights the importance of mobilising financing from the private and public sectors. It presents the investment gap required – between $40- 77 billion for the public sector and $180 billion for the private sector – to trigger and/or sustain the continent’s agro-food transformation. This is with respect to human, institutional and systemic capacities and capabilities.
“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 AASR22 states.
Spotting practical ways to meet these goals, the report calls for the adoption of financing mechanisms such as blended finance, supply chain management through digital solutions, partial credit guarantees, risk sharing facilities, fintech and crop receipts, to name a few.
Sources: Vanguard, Cornell CALS