FAO Director-General at Africa Union Summit – Zero Hunger commitment "a historic occasion"
Panel discussion at AU Summit Malabo facilitated by Ibrahim Mayaki: FAO (Graziano da Silva), IFAD (Nwanze Kanayo), UNECA (Carlos Lopez).
26 June 2014, Malabo, Equatorial Guinea - FAO Director General José Graziano da Silva today congratulated African leaders attending the AU Summit here for "raising the bar" in the fight against hunger.
The continent's renewed effort to boost regional food security include strengthening the Africa-owned CAADP strategy for agriculture development by including links to social protection, establishing an Africa-for-Africa South-South Cooperation food security trust fund and, most importantly, committing to eradicating chronic hunger by 2025.
In a milestone, during today's AU General Assembly session African leaders formally committed to a number of bold goals to reflect ‘The Vision of the Agriculture We Want' including to Ending Hunger by the year 2025 and Improving Nutrition. "There is an urgent need to value our local and traditional nutritious food and bring back the issue of eating well", Graziano da Silva said. "I share with you that a major priority is to cut the food import bill and reduce dependence on imports," he added. In an additional sign of a renewed focus on the catalytic role agriculture can play for Africa, the theme of this week's summit is "Transforming Africa's Agriculture for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods, through Harnessing Opportunities for Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development" -- and the Union has also designated 2014 as the Year of Agriculture and Food Security in Africa.
"CAADP was designed by, is led by, and belongs to Africa," noted Graziano da Silva during a meeting of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) held here. "True and sustainable development needs to grow from within, and that is what CAADP is about," he added.
Also during the summit, the Africa Solidarity Trust Fund announced support to four new sub-regional projects aimed at increasing food security and nutrition in some 24 African countries.
Among the key messages that FAO has promoted this week in Malabo:
Family farmers need support that responds to their needs and the conditions they live in. That support needs to go beyond technology to include credit and access to markets and knowledge. Family farming is part of our identity
Conditions that favor private investment in agriculture need to be encouraged. But more important than the quantity of investment is its quality. Investments should increase the food security of rural populations and encourage land ownership. This is why implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure is so important.
The sustainability of food systems and integration of the poor into the market need to be strengthened. Programmes to promote better food for rural and young communities such asto improve school meal programmes and access to food for future generations.
At the same time, simply increasing food production in Africa will not by itself be enough, according to the Organization.
Food insecurity in Africa -- and elsewhere -- is often caused by lack of access to food, not inadequate supply. So a key challenge for Africa is to adopt a more comprehensive approach which include efforts to enhance production but also investments in social protection, such as conditional cash transfer programs, cash for work programs, and similar approaches.
The UN has designated 2014 as the International Year of Family farming to focus attention on the critical role of small-scale farmers in bolstering food security and to promote policy- and practice changes aimed at helping them realize their full potential.
That potential is particularly evident in Africa, which today remains predominantly rural and where small scale and family farmers work over 60 percent of the agricultural land.
At the same time, Africa has seven out of ten of the world's fastest growing economies, its cities are growing, and there is a rising demand for food in both national and regional markets, currently largely fed by food imports.
With a predominantly young and rural population, and over 11 million youth expected to enter labor markets over the next decade, Africa's agriculture sector can be a catalyst for inclusive growth, shared prosperity and improved livelihoods in the region, FAO believes.