AGRA SUMMIT: VP Mpango launches AASR23 report in Dar

VICE President Dr Philip Mpango launched the 2022 Africa Agriculture Status Report (AASR23) in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday with emphasis put on the repercussions of inaction which are not only confined to hunger and malnutrition but extend to economic, social, and environmental domains, with the potential to undermine the progress made over the years.

A statement issued by the Alliance for a Green Revolution indicated that the new study underscores the need to address the challenges affecting African food systems considering the imminent threat posed by climate change, and the potential consequences of inaction.

Titled “Empowering Africa’s Food Systems”, AASR23 offers an in-depth exploration of the vulnerabilities, challenges, and transformative potential of the continent’s food systems.

This timely report delves into a holistic understanding of the intricacies of African food systems from socio-economic vulnerabilities to the pivotal role of knowledge and technology, while highlighting the urgent need for innovative financing.

AGRA President Dr Agnes Kalibata noted that the report strives to show that innovative finance was not just a catchword, but an essential tool for Africa’s journey towards sustainable, resilient, and inclusive food systems.

“As the continent faces the dual challenges of rapid population growth and climate change, finding new financing mechanisms will be paramount in shaping a prosperous and food secure future for all its citizens,” said Dr Kalibata.

She revealed that out of the 50 indicators outlined in the Food Systems Countdown Initiative (FSCI) framework, sub-Saharan African countries are performing worse than the global average in a total of 32 indicators, mostly related to diets, nutrition, and health.

 On the other hand, sub-Saharan African countries are performing better than the global average in the remaining 18 indicators, including those on food systems’ greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and biosphere integrity.

She cited data from the Boston Consulting Group Annual Sustainability Report of 2021 which indicates the above is accentuated by the fact that up to 650 million Africans, half of the continent’s population lacks economic or physical access to sufficient food to meet their minimum needs every day.

“While African governments are committed to tripling intra-African trade in agricultural commodities and services by 2025 as part of the 2014 Malabo Declaration, the aspiration is far-fetched as this kind of trade continues to dwindle from its peak in 2013 to less than 15 percent in 2022,” she stated.

The report indicates that if fully implemented, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) could raise household income by nine per cent by 2035 while lifting 50 million people out of extreme poverty.

It is projected that Africa could see Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) increase by between 111 and 159 per cent under the AfCFTA.

The report offers a deep dive into the underlying challenges that have historically held back the potential of the continent’s vast natural resources.

Overall, despite progress in food production, processing and distribution, significant challenges and failures persist, leading to an alarmingly poor state of food and nutrition security across the continent.

Thus, the report unveils a multifaceted web of challenges that stretch from production to consumption. While daunting, the report provides a clear call for a concerted response to these challenges from governments, the private sector, communities, and individuals alike.

The Lead Author of the Report, Dr John Ulimwengu stated that the findings in this year’s ASR are not just a reflection of the current challenges but also a roadmap for future actions, guiding the continent towards food systems where every African will have access to sustainable, healthy diets.

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