PRESIDENT Mnangagwa will tomorrow join about 20 African heads of state, government, development partners and private sector financing leaders in Dakar, Senegal for a high-level discussion on road maps for achieving food sovereignty in the continent.
The three-day Feed Africa Summit is in its second edition , focusing on laying out action-driven discourse on how heads of state would mobilise government resources and leverage development partners and private sector financing to harness Africa’s food and agriculture potential and turn advocacy efforts into concrete actions.
Running under the theme, ‘Feeding Africa: Food Security and Resilience’, the summit will be held at the Abdou Diouf International Conference Centre (CICAD) in Diamnadio, with just over 1 500 delegates expected to attend.
The African Union (AU) has set a target to “eliminate hunger and food insecurity by 2025.
Senegalese President, who is also the AU chairperson, Macky Sall, is hosting the three-day event, with the African Development Bank Group coming in as co-hosts.
In his summit preview statement African Development Bank Group president Dr Akinwumi Adesina said; “The Dakar II Summit will mobilise political commitment, development partner and private sector investment, establish much needed policies and strategically drive actions to deliver at scale. This landmark event will be a turning point towards food sovereignty and resilience for the entire continent.”
Dr Beth Dunford, vice president for Agriculture at the African Development Bank, said: “The country’s compacts will provide targeted roadmaps toward self-sufficiency, and provide interventions that will make Africa’s agriculture sector more business-oriented and commercially viable.”
Dr Dunford added: “The Summit will be the one-stop-shop for African countries pursuing more and better investments that are public sector enabled, and private sector-led.”
The inaugural edition was held in 2015, during which the Feed Africa Strategy for Agricultural Transformation (2016-2025) in Africa, was proposed.
The International Fund for Agricultural Development, the Islamic Development Bank, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, and several bilateral partners are among international supporters of the summit.
Statistics show that globally, 828 million people suffer from hunger, with Africa accounting for roughly a third of that number yet the continent with 65 percent of the remaining arable land has the potential to feed nine billion people in the world by 2050.
Its vast savanna areas are estimated at 400 million hectares, of which only 10 percent is cultivated.
The summit comes at a time when the Second Republic’s industrialisation and modernisation agenda is anchored on the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1), the framework towards Vision 2030 to become an upper-middle class economy. The country has seen food insecurity consistently growing. Official figures show that during the period 2015 to 2020, the proportion of food-insecure rural population ranged between 30 and 59 percent and urban vulnerability was also on the rise reaching 30 percent or 2,2 million people by 2020.
Further, the proportion of chronically food insecure people in rural and urban communities according to figures provided by the Government in the NDS1 increased from about 500 000 in 2015 to about 1,7 million people in 2020.
Mindful of that, the Government initiated the process of enhancing agricultural productivity and production built on sustainable production systems anchored on building resilience of social-ecological systems.
The initiatives adopted included but were not limited to up scaling and expediting irrigation rehabilitation and expansion so that there is full utilisation of existing and new water bodies, use of climate smart agriculture through adoption of conservation agriculture techniques and principles such as Pfumvudza/Intwasa.
They also included the development of stress-tolerant, high-yielding crop varieties, promotion of traditional grains in low potential areas which are climate smart, implementation of commercial contract farming that is led by financial services with Government providing guarantees.
The climate proof agriculture concept was also supported by the Presidential input support scheme, with the government releasing $20 billion as part of early preparations for the 2022/2023 summer cropping season.
The Government had initially planned to grow the agriculture sector to US$8,2 billion by 2025 through the Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy (AFSTS) launched by President Mnangagwa in 2020, but the target had already been achieved by 2021. It has since been revised to US$10 billion for the same period. Last year, the country planted its best-ever wheat hectarage of over 77 000 hectares (ha).
Last year at the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) that was held in the Democratic Republic of Congo, member states resolved to have the region becoming food secure through industrialisation, agro-processing, and harnessing technology which they noted as being key to regional development and elimination of dependency on foreign countries.
According to the AfDB, with the removal of barriers to agricultural development aided by new investments, it is estimated that Africa’s agricultural output could increase from $280 billion per year to $1 trillion by 2030. Investing in raising agricultural productivity, supporting infrastructure, climate smart agricultural systems, with private sector investments all along the food value chain can help turn Africa into a breadbasket for the world.