‘Africa must stand together to sustain food system’

VICE-PRESIDENT Dr Philip Mpango has underlined the necessity for Africa to stand together on issues that affect many countries as one of the ways to ensure a sustainable food system on the continent.

Dr Mpango said this on Wednesday during a Presidential Summit at the ongoing Africa Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) 2022 Summit in Kigali Rwanda.

“Together, we can do so much,” he said.

“There are many areas that we need to cooperate on and that requires bold and visionary leadership,” added the VP.

Dr Mpango said the continent can easily work together through regional blocs — the East Africa Cooperation (EAC), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).

“For example, in the case Tanzania has natural gas, and other countries are doing extremely well with electricity production they need to share the fortunes. This would aid the continent in agricultural processing,” he suggested.

According to Dr Mpango, another approach to guarantee that the continent has a sustainable food system is to ensure that all efforts are focused on appeasing the several fragile nations that make up the continent, as farmers need to be able to work and live in peace.

Dr Mpango added that various measures were being taken by the Tanzanian government to address issues that have an influence on food security, including improving the agricultural sector by luring investors to the country where two businesses for the manufacturing of fertilisers are under construction.

“We have also increased the budget for the agriculture sector, introduced irrigation facilities, and built silos,” he noted.

The leaders who took part in the summit included sitting and former Heads of State and government, as well as heads of the private sector and multilateral organisations, hosted by Rwanda’s President, Paul Kagame and Hailemariam Dessalegn, the former Prime Minister of Ethiopia and Chair of AGRA and the AGRF Partners Group.

Discussions at the forum highlighted how African countries can tackle the threat to food security due to global factors such as climate change, the impact of Covid-19 and conflicts between nations around the world.

The leaders have pledged to identify, define and develop local solutions to challenges facing local agricultural production, to build effective and sustainable food systems for the people of Africa, and deliver zero hunger by 2030.

President Kagame, who chaired the session, urged African nations to implement bold actions to shore up food security, especially at this time of multiple global crises.

He called for joint efforts by African leaders and other stakeholders to enhance resilience in the continent’s agricultural sector, to enable the continent to sustainably feed itself and future generations.

“When we met one year ago, ahead of the UN Food Systems Summit, our continent put forward a strong common African position which needs to be built upon in order to effectively deliver results on the ground.

“Ultimately, it is about ensuring Africa is more resilient in the face of unexpected global shocks. But we are off track in achieving our agreed targets under the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme and the Malabo Declaration as well as the Sustainable Development Goals,” he said.

President Kagame said the Covid-19 pandemic, ongoing conflicts and the global supply chain and energy crisis are all placing an unusual strain on our food systems, highlighting the issues facing the continent’s food systems. He urged African leaders to walk the talk and provide for their citizenry.

The session was also attended by Presidents of Zimbabwe Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mohamed Bazoum of Niger and UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed. The session was also attended by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, former president of Nigeria and Lionel Zinsou, the former Prime Minister of Benin.

Mr Dessalegn hailed the commitment of leaders present at the summit and the collective will and ambition to advance African food systems.

“The presence of more than five Heads of State and Government at this year’s AGRF Summit depicts the unprecedented commitment of our leaders to alleviate all forms of hunger, poverty and malnutrition. Africa’s prosperity depends on translating commitments we have made into implementation,” he said.

He further added that the continent’s plight requires collective will, voice and action to radically transform our agriculture sector and turn our fortunes towards sustainable, self-sufficient economic growth.

“There is a need to boldly galvanise collective will amongst leaders to emphatically support agricultural transformation,” said Mr Dessalegn.

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