The eyes of a hungry world are on more than 50 African ministers of agriculture and related sectors of the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) EU member countries, high-level technical experts, representatives of regional organisations and institutions, the civil society and about 100 accredited media gathered in Abidjan this week to take stock of progress made in food security and nutrition on the continent. They will then decide on priority areas for the next two years.
Namibia is represented by the Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, John Mutorwa, and the Deputy Permanent Secretary, Sophia Kasheeta, at this year’s conference themed “Transforming African agri-food systems for inclusive growth and a shared prosperity”, which ends on Friday.
“Global trends and issues are expected to have direct or indirect impacts on the food and agriculture sector, with specific manifestations and impacts in the Africa region,” said Bukar Tijani, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa.
“The national and regional actions that FAO can most effectively support in this context will be firmly grounded in the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) through the Malabo Implementation Strategy and Road Map, and the commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals,” stated Tijani.
Tijani said FAO’s priority areas in Africa will continue to focus on food security and nutrition; the fight against poverty; climate mitigation, adaptation and sustainable use of natural resources; energy and water scarcity; protection against transboundary animal and plant diseases and pests; food safety threats, and agri-food systems development, employment and trade, with particular attention on gender and youth.
Important global developments in 2014-2015 will frame national and regional action and the FAO’s work in food and agriculture in the future. These have regard to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Paris Agreement adopted as an outcome of the UN Global Climate Change Conference (COP21), the Rome Declaration on Nutrition and the Framework for Action adopted by the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2).
“The eradication of hunger remains at the heart of FAO. To date, the organization has helped deliver more than 90 agriculture and food investment projects across 40 countries, and these figures will continue to grow,” stated Tijani.
The organization has provided substantial assistance in policy formulation, including the design and implementation of the ECOWAS Zero Hunger Initiative and the CAADP Regional and National Agriculture Investment Plans to address food security and nutrition.
FAO has developed a number of successful relationships with partner organizations to achieve this mandate and seeks to cultivate new partnerships with the private sector, as this year’s conference will explore opportunities in public-private partnerships for inclusive growth.
In Africa, the Regional Initiatives of the FAO were developed based on an in-depth cross-sectoral and interdisciplinary review of regional issues. They call for accelerated action by member countries in the fight against hunger (Africa’s commitment to end hunger by 2025); promote sustainable proven innovative practices and principles of production and post-production processes (sustainable production intensification and value chain development in Africa), and aim at strengthening resilience among vulnerable farming communities and pastoralists (building resilience in Africa’s dry lands).
In the same vein, the Africa Solidarity Trust Fund (ASTF) is an innovative Africa-led fund to support Africa for African development initiatives. Its main goal is to strengthen food security across the continent by assisting countries and their regional organizations to eradicate hunger and malnutrition, eliminate rural poverty and manage natural resources in a sustainable manner.
The fund has allocated USD35.5 million to 15 regional programmes and national projects covering 39 countries to boost efforts to eradicate hunger, widen market access and support income and employment generation.
During this biennium, the ASTF will also aim to support the establishment of an “African Centre for best practices, capacity development and South-South Cooperation (SSC)” in collaboration with AU and NEPAD.
The opening session on Monday was chaired by the Ivorian Minister of Animal Resources and Fisheries, Kobenan Adjoumani, in the presence of the Ivorian Minister of Agriculture, Mamadou Coulibaly Sangafowa, and the FAO Deputy Director-General, Coordinator for Natural Resources, Maria Helena Semedo.