Towards the UN Food Systems Summit: A Common Voice from Africa

30Mar 2021
The Guardian Reporter
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Towards the UN Food Systems Summit: A Common Voice from Africa

Food insecurity is a serious threat to human survival across the continent and the world at large. It is also a stumbling block to the attainment of both continental and global development agendas namely Agenda 2063 and Agenda 2030 respectively.

Notably, a healthy population that has sufficient access to nutritious food is more likely toengage in socio-economic development activities and eliminate poverty than the one that isdeprived of such basic need.

But also, it should be realised that the reduction of poverty goes hand in hand with achieving food security for all in the continent.

This is because when poverty is properly addressed, and the economy generates the income which is equally distributed to the general population it certainly boosts their purchasing power and  enables them to have sufficient access to the food they need in their day-to-day life.

According to UNCTAD, recent estimates suggest that 73 million people are acutely food insecure in Africa. Sadly, despite the continent having a huge reserve of arable land potential for agricultural production and which can turn Africa into a world food basket, but its capacity to produce food for its population and even export the surplus is not satisfactory at all.

This has made Africa be a huge food importer. UNCTAD notes that from 2016 to 2018, Africa imported about 85% of its food from outside the continent, leading to an annual food import bill of $35 billion, which is forecast to reach $110 billion by 2025.

However, this practice can significantly change if the continent opts to improve its food systemsby addressing challenges such as climate change which causes impacts like drought, sea-levelrise, declines in oceanic productivity, and floods which are unfriendly to the food productionprocess.

Moreover,  resolving conflicts and instability which also cause severe food shortagesdue to the stoppage of agricultural activities is extremely paramount. Therefore, as the continent is preparing towards the UN Food Systems Summit to held in september 2021, Africa united voice on the food systems agenda will be very critical for positioning itself on how to maximising the co-benefits of a food systems approach in the context of the Agenda 2063 and Agenda 2030.

Most importantly, addressing the challenges of climate change which is mostly created by major carbon emitters from developed countries. This was recently emphasised by Mrs. Esterine Fotabong, Director of Programme Innovation and Planning at AUDA-NEPAD during the Food Systems Dialogue between the agency and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) when she called for African countries to stand united during the upcoming summit. "At the UN Food Systems Summit our interest should be presented in a common voice that represents African countries,"  she said.

The meeting was hosted as part of contributing to the implementation of recommendations fromthe High-level AUDA-NEPAD and RECs Coordination Meeting, particularly to “accelerate theimplementation of all actions to increase food security across all regions, including local and regional food production, agro-processing and food distribution and to minimise dependency onfood imports”.

Consequently, it is this common African voice at the UN Food Systems Summit that will enablethe continent to demonstrate itself as a strong and influential global partner as well as creating awin-win situation and agenda-setting circumstance as far as issues of promoting food security inAfrica are concerned.

Together Africa will achieve more at this important gathering than eachcountry working individually considering that food insecurity which is highly contributed byclimate change affects the entire continent.Source:AUDA-NEPAD

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