Creating strong Agri-food systems for greater resilience amid the global food crisis
By Caroline Chiimba
As the world commemorated World Food Day this October under the theme ‘Leave No one behind,’ millions of people around the world still cannot afford a healthy diet, putting them at high risk of food insecurity and malnutrition.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the problem is access and availability of nutritious food, which is increasingly impeded by multiple challenges including the COVID-19 pandemic, conflicts, climate change, inequality, rising prices and international tensions.
“FAO stands ready to contribute technically to a mapping exercise and to agrifood system transformation, working with the World Bank and other international organizations. We must avoid duplicating ongoing efforts, but should build upon initiatives that have already proven to be valuable,” QU Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), told international policy makers.
“Domestic food price inflation is of particular concern, especially for the poorest and most vulnerable who spend a higher share of their incomes on food,” he added, noting that most countries are experiencing retail food prices increases of between 10 percent and 30 percent on an annualized basis.
“In the face of global crises, global solutions are needed more than ever. By aiming for better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life, we can transform agrifood systems and build forward better by implementing sustainable and holistic solutions that consider development in the long term, inclusive economic growth, and greater resilience.”
WFP Representative and Country Director, Ms. Francesca Erdelmann also reiterated thatbeing food secure is more than just having enough food to eat – it’s about consuming an adequate, healthy and diverse diet.
“Together, we must invest in better nutrition by diversifying production and consumption, with a particular focus on the needs of women, children, the elderly and those with chronic diseases,” she said.
“This is our first fully in-person gathering in two years to commemorate World Food Day. It is possible to meet face to face since COVID-19 infections have declined and related restrictions have been eased. However, let’s not forget that the global COVID-19 pandemic underlined that an urgent change of route is needed towards building a more equitable and sustainable future for our food systems and prevent that vulnerable people are pushed deeper into poverty whenever there is a shock.”
African Development Bank Group President Dr. Akinwumi Adesina said Africa should not be importing food, it should become a major food-producing region and export its surplus to the rest of the world.
“If there is one thing Africa can do – it is to help the world feed itself,” said Dr. Akinwumi Adesina at a knowledge exchange event organised by Yara International last month.
“Africa offers enormous opportunities in agriculture, with 65% of the world’s uncultivated arable land still available to feed the world’s population, so its actions will determine the future of global nutrition. Furthermore, Africa’s food and agriculture market will reach $1,000 billion by 2030.”
Early this month (October), Norway announced a $9.2 million allocation for the African Emergency Food Production Facility, and a total of 26 countries have benefited from the African Emergency Food Production Facility which was launched in May this year by the AfDB to enable production of 38 million tonnes of food over the next two years.