Initiatives to enhance food systems in Africa gain momentum


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LUSAKA, ZAMBIA – The vision towards enhancing food systems in Africa is gaining momentum as the continent is positioning itself and giving food and nutrition the necessary attention.

This came to the fore at the 14th commemoration of the Africa Day for Food and Nutrition Security (ADFNS) and the 19th CAADP Partnership Platform (CAADP PP) meeting at the Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka, Zambia under the common theme of “Accelerating the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement in the context of CAADP Commitment on ending hunger by 2025″ and the pursuit for safer and healthier diets in the Africa Common Position on Food Systems Transformation.

Hon Lillian Michelo Kapusana, the Deputy Chairperson of the Committee of Permanent Secretaries on Food and Nutrition and Permanent Secretary for Administration, Office of the Vice President, Government of Zambia, in remarks yesterday for the Secretary to the Cabinet, said there is increased attention being given to food systems globally, in the region and at national levels.

“This has been due to increased emphasis placed on food and nutrition security at eminent gatherings such as this event today. Further, the hosting of this event in Zambia is a reflection of the commitment and efforts that his excellency the President of the Republic of Zambia, Mr. Hakainde Hichilema, made at the United Nations Food Systems Summit in New York on 23rd September 2021 and at other high-level events on the African continent.

“Zambia through her honour, Mrs. W. K Mutale-Nalumango, Vice President of the Republic of Zambia, while attending the African Union high-level summit on the African Year of Nutrition in Abidjan, Ivory Coast on 8th December 2022, expressed Zambia’s interest to host the 14th African day for Food and Nutrition Security which falls on 30th and 31st October 2023 under the auspices of the African Union Commission,” she said

Subsequently, the African Union Commission accepted the request by the Republic of Zambia to host the commemoration of the 14th ADFSN and further requested the Republic of Zambia to also consider hosting the 19th Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme Partnership Platform (CAADP PP).

“It is also gratifying to note that food and nutrition have received increased attention from various sectors, both locally and abroad. The vision towards enhancing food systems in Africa has never been this clear than now. In view of various approaches to accomplishing this, Africa is further positioning itself and giving food and nutrition the necessary attention.

“It deserves through programmes such as the Scaling Up Nutrition and 1,000 Most Critical Days Phase II Programme. In Zambia, I wish to state that all actors that play a critical role in improving the country’s food and nutrition status are on board from national to community levels as one example,” she added.

Speaking at the same event, Dr. Godfrey Bahiigwa, Director of Agriculture and Rural Development at the African Union Commission said the decision to celebrate the Africa Day for Food and Nutrition Security was taken back in July 2010 by the Africa Union Heads of States and Government, in the wake of an unacceptably persistent level of food insecurity epitomized by chronic malnutrition on the continent.

Since then, the Africa Day for Food and Nutrition Security has been celebrated through commemorative events to showcase the centrality of food and nutrition security in Africa’s economic transformation agenda.

The 14th Africa Day for Food and Nutrition Security event in Lusaka seeks to sustain this momentum as a platform for rallying political, technical and financial commitments at all levels to address contemporary challenges facing the implementation of food and nutrition security interventions in Africa.

“The commemoration of the ADFSN is not for the sake of it. It’s because the challenge of food insecurity and malnutrition still persists. As you heard Mrs. Estherine Fotabong, the Director of Agriculture, Food Security and Environmental Sustainability from AUDA-NEPAD earlier, over 280 million Africans are hungry, that is one in every five Africans. The 3rd CAADP BR report in 2021 revealed that only one country, Kenya, was on track to end hunger by 2025. The 4th CAADP BR report will be presented to the ministers next month, revealing the latest continent’s performance,” Dr. Bahiigwa said.

Traditionally, the CAADP PP is the African Union’s main platform for policy dialogue, lessons learning, sharing and accountability among stakeholders to advance the implementation of the CAADP Agenda. However, this year the 19th CAADP PP has been, for the first time, organized together with the commemoration of the 14th Africa Day for Food and Nutrition Security. Both events were preceded by the associated Malabo Policy Learning Event (MAPLE) yesterday.

The CAADP High-Level Ministerial Forum takes place today in Lusaka.  The series of events are synchronized to provide a platform for sharing experiences and lessons and discussing opportunities and strategies to promote intra-Africa agri-food trade and improved nutrition in Africa.

It will also shed light on the progress in implementing the CAADP and Malabo Commitments over the past 20 years, and reflect on what it takes to accelerate the implementation of the AfCFTA.

The overall objective of these events is to facilitate action-oriented dialogue, learning, engagement, collaboration and commitment to actions among stakeholders to accelerate the implementation of AfCFTA and to enhance Africa’s food system transformation in alignment with the goals and targets of the CAADP commitments.

This year’s deliberations are organized under five sub-themes namely: Reflection on the last 20 years (CAADP@20), Priorities for the Remaining 2 Years and What Next (the Post Malabo Agenda); Harnessing science, innovation, and research to enhance food and nutrition security; Financing agri-food and nutrition through private-sector involvement; Harnessing the nexus between CAADP and AfCFTA towards tripling intra-African trade in agricultural commodities and nutrition improvement; and Strengthening the capacities of institutions, partnerships, knowledge management, and learning.

“Organizing these events this year, into a four-day meeting has presented great opportunities. I am happy to note the high level of participation registered, and 12 side events organised by various stakeholders; and would therefore like to thank and appreciate your commitment to the CAADP agenda, to the Africa Day for Food and Nutrition Security, and to Africa’s framework to sustainably transform our food systems.

“Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen, let us commit to investing our time in the discussions, contributing to the different side events, and networking during the four days. I believe that we will all have successful deliberations. We should use our respective comparative advantages from our various sub-sectors within and outside agriculture to achieve the goals and objective of this four-event meeting,” he added.

Dr. Bahiigwa urged delegates to proactively think through best practices and suggest practical, relevant, and appropriate actions to accelerate the pace toward achieving the CAADP Malabo targets by 2025.