By The Inspirer staff
The African continent is not on course to achieve its target whereby no African should be hungry by 2025, Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, and former President of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo have warned.
The two leaders urged the continent to utilise technology and make concerted efforts to accomplish this daunting task to save the hungry Africans from hunger.
They made the observations on Monday, evening as he attended the Africa Food Security Leadership Dialogue (AFSLD) Dinner and signing of AFSLD Kigali Communiqué, in Rwanda.
The communiqué was signed between the World Bank, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (UFAO), African Development Bank, International Fund for Agriculture Development, and African Union to formalise their commitment to renew the way of working jointly to address food and nutrition security and achieve lasting impact.
“We are off track with the Malabo Declaration target to eradicate hunger by 2025. In fact, since it was signed in 2014, undernourishment has been rising again in many African countries,” Kagame said, adding that “almost 20 per cent of Africans are undernourished. Here in Rwanda, we have had our struggles with this.”
“But I assure you, with the knowledge that has been put in our hands, the technology, the support of partners, and ensuring that everyone participates, we are going to fix this problem and we are going to succeed. If we can, everyone can,” Kagame observed.
Undernourishment, he said, will negatively impact today’s children throughout their lives.
“If the trend is left unchecked, the entire human development agenda in Africa is at risk,” the President stated.
He indicated that increased agricultural productivity is essential for eradicating hunger and undernourishment, but, pointed out that “food security is not where we stop.”
“We want a continent that is truly prospering in every sense of the term. And agriculture is undoubtedly the foundation of Africa’s prosperity. That is the larger ambition we must challenge ourselves to achieve. We owe it to the generations that follow us,” the President said.
The President said that there is no doubt that climate change is the main cause of the slower growth in food production in recent years, pointing out that compared to the late 1980s and early 1990s, there has been a five-fold increase in the frequency of climate-related shocks in Africa, especially drought.
Conflict is another driver of food insecurity identified in the statement. Security and governance are the basis of everything else we wish to do. Agricultural policies must take account of this wider context.
Need to maximise production potential
Kagame also highlighted the essential role of the private sector, and of African economic integration, underscoring that productive agriculture depends on a complex value chain of goods and services.
But, he said, African markets are fragmented and inefficient, with most of its firms lacking scale, while investment in ICTs and data tools is still low.
“As food travels from farm to table, a great deal is simply lost to waste. And overall, we are producing much less than we are capable of. We cannot put the blame for this situation on changing weather patterns,” he said.
“Africa’s farmers were poor before climate change became a factor. We cannot afford to go on like this and there is no excuse. Improving the enabling environment for agriculture is something we can fully control,” he added.
Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria, said that lack of science and technology has made African agriculture less productive, which is disadvantageous to African farmers.
He cited cassava crop whose production per hectare is 10 tonnes in Africa, while it is over 20 tonnes per hectare in Europe.
Obasanjo expressed that Africa has had many policies, but their implementation has been a challenge.
“Without science, agriculture will tend to be a motorvehicle without an engine. Science is important in driving diverse areas of agriculture, including delivering improved varieties of the major crops and livestock commodities through breeding and biotechnology,” Obasanjo said.
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