"We cannot afford to go on like this" - President Paul Kagame
Development partners in Africa have pledged to pool their resources to counter food insecurity on the continent.
The commitment was formalized at the first Africa Food Security Leadership Dialogue (AFSLD) held in Kigali, Rwanda, August 5-6, in partnership with the African Union, leaders of the African Development Bank, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Bank.
The event focused on strengthening and accelerating support to Africa's food security programs and helping African agriculture adapt to climate change through increased partnerships and coordination.
"We cannot afford to go on like this ... Improving the enabling environment for agriculture is something we can fully control. Increased agricultural productivity is essential for eradicating hunger and undernourishment," said Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda.
More than 250 decision makers attended the event, including 28 ministers, Nobel laureates, leading technical specialists and senior representatives from international organizations such as the African Union.
"The African Union believes strongly that partnerships are vital if we are to end hunger by 2025, in line with the target set by the AU," said Ambassador Josefa Sacko, African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture.
About 20 percent of Africa's population is facing severe food insecurity. The situation is deteriorating because of the negative impact of climate change and conflicts.
Hafez Ghanem, Vice-President of the World Bank's Africa region, said greater cooperation would broaden the impact.
"This meeting made it very clear that we must to work together to increase access to technology for the farmers, especially women, to enable better financing, and to ensure that agriculture is part of the climate change solution. And we must do so urgently," said Ghanem.
Action needs to be taken at many levels, said Gilbert Houngbo, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD.
"We need coordination across all areas, from addressing gaps in major infrastructure to transferring knowledge, finance and innovative technologies at the community, farm and even family level. IFAD is committed to continuing to work with its partners to empower the rural poor and the most vulnerable, and to ensure that smallholder farmers and agripreneurs have the capital, the knowledge and the support they need to succeed," he said.
In a joint communique, delegates emphasized the importance of policies.
"Smart polices are required to create and sustain enabling conditions for investments in sustainable food and agriculture systems in a changing climate. Immense opportunities exist for informing and supporting policy with knowledge, evidence, and necessary tools. The FAO believes that we have a lot to offer in collaboration with our partners to advance this important agenda within Africa," said Maria Helena Semedo, Deputy Director-General, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, FAO.
Martin Fregene, African Development Bank Director for Agriculture and Agro-Industry, said:
"The very existence of this Africa Food Security Leadership Dialogue shows that the desire to transform African agriculture is strong. The African Development Bank will continue to work with development partners to tackle the continent's food and nutrition challenges."
For more information, please visit the AFSLD website at: africafoodsecurity.org
Gershwin Wanneburg, Communication Officer, Communication and External Relations Department, African Development Bank