By Khulile Thwala
Over the past few months, numerous reports on an impending food security crisis have been documented, including those published by the Eswatini Financial Times.
However, there is still room for a turnaround as a recent meeting between the African Development Bank Group President Dr Akiwumi Adesina, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) President Alvaro Lario and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Director General Qu Dongyu suggests.
During a meeting held ahead of the African Food Summit (Dakar II) to be hosted in Dakar, Senegal in January 2023, these leaders said eradicating hunger in Africa by 2030 was still possible. This was shared on the AfDB website.
The high-level Dakar II summit, themed ‘Unleashing Africa’s Food Potential,’ co-convened by the African Development Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Research, will attract African Heads of State, ministers of Finance and Agriculture as well as several global development partners.
The goal of the Dakar II conference is to mobilise political support for the structural transformation of agriculture in Africa, following renewed global interest in the sector, and the fallout of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine which has led to a significant rise in the cost of food production and imports.
According to AfDB President Adesina, “It is inexcusable that a continent with 65 per cent of the world’s most arable land and abundant water resources, would still suffer from food insecurity. The summit is a critical global effort to help Africa achieve zero hunger systematically, and proactively.”
“We have the technologies, platforms, and resources to change the status quo by energizing the private sector, scaling up food production for millions of African farmers, unlocking finance for farmers and agricultural SMEs, and transforming the agriculture and food value chains,” he says.
As co-conveners of the Africa Food Summit in 2023, the AfDB and IFAD will work on policy frameworks and food and agriculture delivery compacts, as reported on the website.
According to the conveners, performance-based compacts with African governments, development partners, and the private sector, that meet clear food self-sufficiency targets, will be at the core of the Dakar 2 Africa Food Summit.
FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu said long-term partnerships and joint resources with the African Development Bank Group will help leverage and catalyse agricultural projects across the continent.
“We must work together on the whole agricultural value chain of food production, food processing, and food marketing in a complementary, pragmatic, and results-oriented way. Ensuring food security is the end game,” he said.
A recent collaboration between FAO and the African Development Bank Group includes the identification and preparation of projects in Tanzania and Equatorial Guinea, and technical development of blue economy programmes in Cabo Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, and Morocco; climate-smart agricultural training, and multi-stakeholder dialogues on the Bank’s Desert to Power and Great Green Wall initiatives.
The January 2023 Africa Food Summit will also focus on scaling access to technologies and finance for agriculture SMEs and smallholder farmers, increased productivity, and the development of seed, storage, electricity, transport logistics, and infrastructure.