African countries need to invest more in agriculture by allocating sufficient budget to the sector if the continent must fully recover from the impact of the Covid-19 and build sustainable food systems to avert future crises.
These were part of the recommendations of the the 2022 Africa Agriculture Status Report (AASR22) which was launched at the opening the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) Summit 2022 in Kigali on Tuesday with a call for African governments to lead and coordinate domestic and external efforts to urgently and holistically tackle food insecurity in the continent.
The Africa Agriculture Status Report is an annual publication by AGRA, focusing on emerging issues in Africa. Last year, the 2021 AASR Report focused on the resilience of Africa’s food systems, and why ensuring this resilience is critical.
The 2022 report released today during the ongoing AGRF Summit in Kigali is themed “Accelerating African Food Systems Transformation”. It emphasises the urgent need for inclusive, equitable, sustainable and resilient growth in the agricultural sector, while acknowledging intensification of major drivers of recent food insecurity trends in Africa. It recognises the need to accelerate action.
Fundamentally, the 2022 report calls for good leadership and coordination, a need to build capacity and capabilities to address food systems, but most importantly the mobilisation of financing from both the public and private sector. The publication focuses on practical pathways to meet these ends.
The report highlights six megatrends shaping the development of agrifood systems in Africa that warrant greater attention by stakeholders. It examines the role of leadership in harnessing collective effort, shared responsibility, greater stakeholder engagement, as well as rallying political will, to achieve food systems transformation in Africa.
Further, it presents the investment gap required to trigger and/or sustain Africa’s agro-food transformation reflecting on the requisite human, institutional and systemic capacities and capabilities that are required to achieve agro-food system transformation at scale. And, it recommends priorities for African national
governments, development partners and the private sector.
The report states that “Accelerating agro-food transformation in a sustainable and inclusive way is an extremely complex task. It requires an integrated approach, which draws heavily on the cooperation of system actors, with African governments driving the process that facilitates the required change,” adding that addressing the vulnerability of Africa’s food systems requires political will and leadership.
AGRA’s President, Dr Agnes Kalibata noted that a combination of the after-effects of the pandemic and the Ukraine conflict have led to elevation of food prices thus exacerbating food insecurity in the continent.
“The AASR22 reflects on key action areas required to tackle the most urgent and important areas in response to these challenges. There is urgent need to repurpose food policies to address the emerging challenges affecting conditions, outcomes and behaviour of our food systems, without compromising the economic, social and environmental fundamentals,” Dr Kalibata added.
The AASR22 challenges African governments to assume a leadership role in food system transformation as a national security, poverty alleviation and rural development agenda that cuts across various institutions, while reducing reliance on donors who have been directing flows of international assistance. It calls for locally led integrated action that brings together key sectors of the economy that are central to food systems, including health, environment, agriculture and education, and is aligned to national needs and priorities.
“The journey toward food and nutritional security for Africa has a clear destination: zero hunger. Thanks to many strategy documents, we have reasonable consensus on the roadmap -sustainable intensification and a food systems approach. This report focuses on how we get there faster while adapting to the ever-changing terrain. Time is of the essence,” Dr Ed Mabaya, Research Professor at Cornell University and one of the authors of the AASR report.
According to the report, estimates of Africa’s investment needs to trigger and sustain agro-food transformation range from US$40 billion and US$77 billion every year from the public sector, and up to US$180 billion in private sector funding.
“With the private sector expected to play a critical role in filling the financing gap, public sector funding is expected to play the role of de-risking and incentivising private sector capital into agriculture,” the AASR22 states, calling for an enabling environment through investment in public infrastructure and policy and innovative financing mechanisms that are continuously recalibrated to meet evolving financial needs and circumstances.
This includes blended finance, supply chain financing through digital solutions, partial credit guarantees, risk sharing facilities, fintechs and crop receipts, among others. It notes that African countries, which currently receive less than half the resources needed to implement the continent’s climate action commitments and nationally determined commitments, need to avail climate financing to smallholder farmers and other food value chain actors.
This landmark report follows the pledges that were made at the UN Food Systems Summit in September 2021, setting a scene for a deeper introspection on the policy implications for sub-Saharan African countries.
The AASR22 was launched at the 12th edition of the AGRF Summit, an annual gathering that brings together heads of state and government, agriculture ministers, members of the civil society, private sector leaders, scientists and farmers in discussions that define the future of Africa’s food systems.
Under the theme Grow. Nourish. Reward – Bold Actions for Resilient Food Systems, this year’s AGRF Summit is seeking to find catalytic solutions to grow the coordinated and large-scale action by stakeholders across multiple sectors, nourish innovations and cultivate country solutions that will translate the commitments made into actionable strategies and progress on the ground, and reward and recognize champions and celebrate country pathways.