NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - A new report released at the onset of 2021 African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) has called on all players in the agriculture sector, including governments, pan-African organizations, bilateral and multilateral development partners, and the private sector to work collectively as a team so as to build resilient and sustainable food systems for the continent.
The Africa Agriculture Status Report (AASR) is an annual publication that is published by AGRA since 2013, and has become a reference point for emerging topics on agriculture in the region.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 report details the practical steps all players from governments and regional organizations to the private sector need to take to rebuild and enhance Africa’s food systems.
“The pandemic has shown that despite the progress we’ve made over the last decade, Africa’s food systems remain fragile to external shocks,” said Dr Agnes Kalibata, AGRA’s President. “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,” she added.
However, Prof Kevin Chika Urama of the Africa Development Bank and one of the editors observed that despite the challenge brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is an eye opener and an opportunity for people to start thinking differently.
Joachim von Braun, a Professor for Economic and Technological Change, Bonn University, Germany noted that Africa does not need to choose between stereotyped approaches, such as “technological approaches” or “agro-ecology approaches”, but farmers and their partners in value chains can identify and develop “African approaches”.
“These will be based on locally adaptive agricultural research, new science, the creativity of farmers, and extension, and entail context-specific, climate smart, sustainable improved practices in the highly varied conditions of rural Africa,” noted the Professor, who is also the President of the Pontifical Academy of Science, The Vatican.
The scientists noted that Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) region has registered the most rapid rate of agricultural production growth since 2000 of any region of the world. However, three quarters of this growth is driven by the expansion of crop land, over yield increases.
"Raising yields and productivity on existing farmland is among the most important ways to make African food systems more resilient and sustainable,” said Andrew Cox, AGRA's Chief of Staff and Strategy. “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 added.
The report 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 of 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 lead author of the report.
It further builds on the call to action to African governments from the UN Food Systems Summit, recognizing the need for urgency in this last decade of the global effort to realize the sustainable development goals (SDGs).