-while boosting up local agricultural production and productivity”, said nutrition and procurement experts drown from sixteen African nations.
Attending the Africa Regional Workshop on Designing and Implementing Sustainable Public Food Procurement for Home Grown School Meals Programmes (HGSF), held from 11 to 13 November 2019 at the African Union Commission (AUC) in Addis Ababa, participants called on governments to enact legal frameworks and increase national investments to foster sustainable public food procurements for home-grown school feeding initiatives.
The three-day workshop was aiming at supporting African governments in the design and implementation of sustainable public food procurement from smallholder farmers for home-grown school meals programmes.
H.E. Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture at the AUC, in her opening statement, presented by Dr Laila Lokosang, Adviser of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), said that HGSF is embedded in the African Union Programmes, targeting hunger and malnutrition, local production and human capital investments. “The African Union Commission considers HGSF as a key component in the implementation of the Continental Education Strategy (2016 - 2025), which aims at ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all, ” said Ms. Sacko.
Highlighting the strong collaboration forged between FAO, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the AUC in promoting school feeding programmes in Africa, David Phiri, FAO Subregional Coordinator for Eastern Africa and Representative to the African Union and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, noted that this engagement is the sign of the strong commitment these institutions have forged to achieve multiple goals by linking school feeding to smallholder farmers.
“Building the linkage between school feeding programmes and local smallholder farmers is an innovative approach to provide schoolchildren with food that is safe, nutritious and local, opening up an uninterrupted market for local farmers, leading to higher production and productivity. With all its expertise in food security, procurement, logistics, and school feeding, FAO will continue to work with governments and partners to develop national policies and strategies for HGSF programmes,” Phiri assured.
H.E. Ambassador Giuseppe Berlendi, Representative of Italy to the African Union, in his address stressed that his country has been keen to support HGSF initiatives, as it brings together public procurement for schools and local farmers for increased food security and diet diversification for rural children.
“Through the creation of sustainable supply channels from farmers to schools, HGSF is also reducing the household vulnerability in times of food crisis, and is contributing to the increase in school attendance rate of children, especially those coming from the most vulnerable households,” added Berlendi.
According to WFP, 66 million primary school age children go hungry every day, with 23 million hungry children in Africa alone. Additionally, 75 million school-age children (55 percent of them girls) do not attend school, with over 35 million (47 percent) of them living in sub-Saharan Africa. Thus, the need to reduce hunger while increasing school enrolment in these children is evident, and school feeding programmes have been developed to target these multifaceted problems.
Participants of the workshop were drawn from the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Education, Public Procurement Authorities, and Ministry of Social Protection of Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Egypt, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Nigeria, Senegal, Tunisia, Uganda, and Zambia. Regional Economic Communities also attended the workshop.
FAO promotes the adoption of a food systems perspective on school feeding in order to achieve long-term gains in nutrition and broader rural development. A key aspect of the Organization’s strategy is to link local farmers with school food and nutrition programmes to boost the local economy and encourage community involvement. It is with this objective that FAO, in collaboration with AUC through the Department of Human Resources, Science and Technology (HRST), the Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture (DREA), and the Department of Social Affairs (DSA) organized this workshop.
FAO partnered with WFP and with the International Training Centre of the International Labour Organization (ILO/ ITC) in organizing the workshop, which was supported financially by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France.