To demonstrate their commitment to addressing food and nutrition insecurity, African Union member states and other key stakeholders are in Lusaka for the 14th Africa Day on Food and Nutrition Security (ADFNS) and the 19th Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme Partnership Platform (CAADP PP).
In her keynote speech while officially opening the meeting today, Mrs. W. K. Mutale-Nalumango, the Vice President of the Republic of Zambia said the gathering is a platform to share knowledge and experiences as well as take stock of progress attained to ensure that safer and nutritious foods are available, accessible, affordable and desirable for improved health and well-being of all people on the continent.
“It is worth noting that according to the 2023 State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World Report, the food and nutrition security on the African continent reveals that while significant progress has been recorded in addressing hunger, poverty, and food security over the years, there is an increase in the number of hungry people who are barely managing a meal in a day.
“Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, we have equally seen an increase in stunting and wasting levels on the continent. This is as a result of the continent remaining highly vulnerable to shocks and disruptions arising from conflict, climate variability as well as economic contraction,” the VP said.
She added that the situation is further worsened by demographic changes, urbanisation and shifting consumption patterns. These factors, combined with growing inequities, keep challenging the capacity of national agri-food systems to deliver nutritious, safe, and affordable diets for all.
To attain the target of ending hunger by 2025, on the continent under the Malabo Declaration, the VP said there is a need for a paradigm shift. This calls for political will as well as technical and financial commitments to accelerate the implementation of food and nutrition security interventions in Africa.
This year, the combined event has been organised and is aligned with the 2023 theme of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area initiative, which is “Accelerating the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement in the context of CAADP commitments for safer and healthier diets.“
The theme is significant and timely as the Africa Continental Free Trade area presents opportunities to develop Africa’s food basket to feed its people with a possible surplus for the export market.
This will be attained through increased agricultural food production, productivity, easy movement of goods and food products, regional integration of food systems as well as diversification and value addition to food products while supporting increased incomes among smallholder farmers.
In her address earlier, Mrs. Estherine Lisinge-Fotabong, the Director of Agriculture, Food Security, and Environmental Sustainability at AUDA-NEPAD hinted that by harnessing the potential of the AfCFTA and CAADP and grounding their actions in nutrition-sensitive strategies, stakeholders can pave the way for a flourishing and nourished Africa.
“The ADFNS serves as a beacon, urging us to address nutrition as a development imperative. A notable focus should be on critical periods such as the first 1000 Days from conception, which heavily influence lifelong well-being.
“Highlighting our successes, AUDA-NEPAD’s Home-Grown School Feeding (HGSF) initiative is a testament to the profound impact of a well-structured program. Linking school feeding to agricultural development, it fulfills multiple objectives, from bolstering local agriculture to enhancing school attendance and retention,” she added.