By Dr. Layih Butake, Director of Communication and Outreach at AKADEMIYA2063.
Africa’s trajectory towards emergence and self-reliance has seen significant progress in achieving global and continental milestones such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Malabo Declaration. However, food security and improved nutrition remain a challenge, and current trends suggest that the continent is not on track to achieve Zero Hunger (SDG 2) by 2030. The Evidence suggest that one in five people faced hunger in Africa in 2020, more than double. the proportion of any other region. Several factors explain the prevalence of hunger and undernourishment on the continent, including demographic changes and rapid urbanization. The slowdown in the pace of economic growth that began towards the end of the 2010s is therefore a real source of concern and a threat to continued progress towards the objectives of the Malabo agenda. In addition, economic shocks related to recurrent and more frequent extreme weather events and the COVID-19 pandemic more recently have increased the vulnerability of African food systems, causing supply chain disruptions, job losses, rising food prices and a reduction in dietary diversity.
In response to the above concerns and to help chart a future course to sustain and deepen the progress of the past two decades, the Malabo Montpellier Panel recently unveiled Recipes for Success: Policy Innovations to Transform African Food Systems and Build Resilience (https://bit.ly/3op0Ecu). Launched during the 9th meeting of the Forum Malabo Montpellier (https://bit.ly/3J8f20N) on November 23, 2021, the report presents an analysis of more than 50 country reports published between 2017 and 2020, proposing a roadmap for the government action towards better performing and more resilient African food systems.
Linking Thematic Action Areas
From seven studies in the thematic areas of nutrition (https://bit.ly/3J3n22O), mechanization (https://bit.ly/3HqLiLW), irrigation (https://bit. ly/3Hu8Ijs), digital agriculture (https://bit.ly/3Gr7hB5), the energy-agriculture link (https://bit.ly/3J3L9yo), livestock (https://bit.ly /3LcwMcX) and agricultural trade (https://bit.ly/3sgmu2X), the report highlights how some African countries have made sustained progress, providing a practical guide to accelerate efforts to end hunger and transform their systems food.
“Africa has made great strides over the decades, but there is worrying evidence that the pace of progress had slowed significantly even before the pandemic, in part due to stagnating public investment in agriculture. , resulting in slower economic and agricultural growth, and higher rates. of poverty and hunger after two decades of steady decline,” said Dr. Ousmane Badiane, Executive Chairman of AKADEMIYA2063 and Co-Chair of the Malabo Montpellier Panel. “Reversing the course and returning to a trajectory of faster growth and improved living conditions requires continuity of effort and coherence of action in several policy areas. To be effective, policies should manage trade-offs and take advantage of synergies between key strategic outcomes, including sustained and widespread growth, healthy ecosystems, equity and inclusiveness, in the context of climate change. This report provides practical evidence for doing just that, drawing on lessons proven on the ground from the most successful African countries in terms of progress towards ending hunger and transforming food systems,” he said. declared.
Launched against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) and COP26, the report is guided by key policy frameworks such as the Comprehensive African Agriculture (CAADP), the Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agriculture. agricultural growth, the Livestock Development Strategy for Africa (LIDESA), the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Nutrition must be a major political priority in countries’ development efforts
Although there has been remarkable progress in reducing extreme hunger in Africa over the past two decades, much remains to be done to achieve the Malabo Declaration targets of reducing the prevalence of stunting, wasting and underweight while ensuring minimum dietary diversity for women and meeting minimum standards for infant feeding by 2025. Evidence suggests that good nutrition contributes to cognitive development and the realization of economic potential throughout life, while poor nutrition undermines productivity, which hampers economic growth. The cost of undernutrition to African economies averages 11% of gross domestic product (GDP) per year, while the economic returns from investing in nutrition are high: for every US$1 invested, US$16 US are generated.
The report examines case studies from Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Rwanda, Senegal and Togo, indicating that while interventions need to be adapted to local contexts for significant impact, good practices across countries include breastfeeding, biofortification, social protection programs and home gardens. . Sustainably reducing malnutrition requires the political will of governments to prioritize nutrition in all areas of public policy and collaboration with other stakeholders, especially community-based organizations, the private sector and development partners. A strong holistic approach should tackle all forms of malnutrition and capture the synergies between agriculture, water, health, sanitation, the threat of conflict and climate change.
Agricultural mechanization can increase incomes and improve livelihoods
When adapted to local contexts, mechanization along the agricultural value chain can increase farm incomes, improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers and create new employment opportunities, especially for women, which continue to dominate the informal food processing and trading sectors.
While Africa has the least mechanized agricultural system, the report highlights an increase in new efforts towards sustainable agricultural mechanization across the continent. An analysis of the average annual growth rates of machinery and agricultural production from 2005 to 2014 suggests that Ethiopia, Mali, Rwanda and Zambia are the leaders in increasing the adoption of mechanization throughout the world. along the value chain, thereby stimulating the growth of their agricultural production and generating new off-farm employment opportunities.
Critical success factors seen in the four countries include increased collaboration with the private sector, skills development and training of youth, and support for emerging domestic agricultural machinery industries. Other contributing factors recommended in the report include a broad view of mechanization, the integration of agricultural mechanization investment strategies into national agricultural investment plans, as well as increased investments in the development of large-scale professional training and support infrastructure.
Digital technologies will boost agricultural sustainability and boost African economies
Digital technologies offer a plethora of opportunities for agricultural value chain actors to make more informed decisions, reduce costs, increase productivity and incomes, and achieve better nutrition and health outcomes. In addition, ICTs can help empower governments to better understand agricultural economics and improve macro-decisional policymaking.
Several countries in Africa show a relatively high degree of digitalization in their economies, including in the agricultural sector, led by Côte d’Ivoire, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda and Senegal. Innovative solutions emerging from the various approaches used by these countries include establishing a robust digitalization environment with sound regulatory and fiscal regimes, involving the private sector in the design, development and dissemination of smart technologies , and the promotion of an innovation ecosystem that encourages young people to develop locally adapted digital solutions and services.
Since its inception five years ago, the Malabo Montpellier Panel has analyzed policy-driven successes in a range of strategic areas and identified programs and practices that, if scaled, could significantly accelerate progress towards the objectives of the African Union agenda, in particular, and the United Nations SDGs, more generally, namely improving livelihoods, food and nutrition security, and promoting sustainable growth and the transformation of African food systems.
“The opportunities for policy innovation discussed in the report are cornerstones of a well-functioning food system. They are essential elements of strategies for transforming national food and agricultural systems,” said Professor Joachim von Braun, Co-Chair of the Malabo Montpellier Group at the Center for Development Research at the University of Bonn in Germany. “What we need is to accelerate the means of implementation towards sustainable and efficient food systems that respond to the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals,” he said. he declares.
Cross-cutting recommendations include: integrating food systems transformation into national long-term vision, growth and development agendas; raise African science and technology priorities and build research capacity for local solutions; innovative policies and technical solutions that will support the transformation of food systems; coordination between ministries and non-state actors for better political cohesion; optimizing the conditions for sustainable growth through smart regulation; and stimulate overall investment in infrastructure while creating enabling environments for private sector investment.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of AKADEMIYA2063.
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