The 2021 Africa Agriculture Status Report (AASR21) has been launched at the 11th Edition of the Africa Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) summit taking place in Kenya.
AGRF is an annual gathering that will run for the next three days and usually 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.
The report addresses the challenges and opportunities in the creation of sustainable and resilient Agri-food systems in Africa. The report has called for necessary actions by governments, pan African organizations, bilateral and multilateral development partners and the private sector.
Speaking during the launch of the report, Agriculture Principal Secretary Prof. Hamadi Boga said the government has been continually updating its food balance sheet to ensure that prices of commodities are stabilized.
“Most of our interventions have been effective. We have been monitoring imports from the region and also global food status for commodities that as a country we have a deficit,” he said.
The PS acknowledged that the Covid-19 pandemic posed a great challenge for the country in accessing food especially during the lockdown period.
The PS however said that government initiated the process of providing cash transfers for the urban settlement families, where majority of the low-income earners reside and where there was food deficit.
“We have also been working with different organizations including the private sector, development partners and Counties to look at the availability of food across the country, how it will be accessed and how it can be distributed without interference of the lockdown,” said Boga.
Dr. Agnes Kalibata, President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) said AASR21 details the practical steps all stakeholders from governments and regional Organizations to the private sector need to take to rebuild and enhance Africa’s food systems.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has shown that despite the progress we’ve made over the last decade, Africa’s food systems remain fragile to external shocks. We must take the opportunity we have to rebuild from the pandemic, to make our food systems more resilient without putting further pressure on the environment,” Kalibata added.
According to the report, Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has registered the most rapid rate of agricultural production growth since 2000 of any regions of the world. However, three quarters of this growth is driven by the expansion of crop land, over yield increases.
Andrew Cox, AGRA’s Chief of Staff and Strategy said that raising yields and productivity on existing farmland is among the most important ways to make African food systems more resilient and sustainable.
“Raising productivity on existing farmland will reduce pressures for continued expansion of cropland and preserve valued forest and grassland ecosystems and the biodiversity that they provide,” he said.
With Africa’s population expected to double to nearly 2.5 billion by 2050, the report says that now is the time for stakeholders to put the steps in place to increase production without compromising the continent’s natural resources.
The report further outlines the priorities and next steps that must be taken by all stakeholders to achieve the transformation that will lead to sustainable and resilient Agri-food systems.
“The AASR21 should serve as a wake-up call on the need to act urgently to support the creation of resilient food systems and reverse or mitigate the impact we’ve seen on the environment,” said Dr. Thom Jayne of Michigan State University and a lead author of the report.
The AGRF meeting is running under the theme, Pathways to Recovery and Resilient Food Systems, and the summit expects to explore the pathways and actions needed to steer the continent towards food systems that deliver sufficient and nutritious food, protect the environment and create sustainable jobs.
By Wangari Ndirangu