AfCFTA can transform Africa’s food system – FAO

Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) says the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is a unique opportunity for the transformation of the continent’s food system.

FAO’s Regional Representative for Africa, Abebe Haile-Gabriel, said the AFCFTA would address the continent’s hunger issues.

A statement from the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) on Wednesday said Haile-Gabriel made the remark at the ongoing Seventh Session of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD) in Brazzaville, Congo.

The meeting was co-organised by the ECA and the World Food Programme (WFP) in collaboration with the government of Congo.

Haile-Gabriel said Africa was not on track to achieve zero hunger by 2030 but, however, emphasised the importance of the political will and commitment of African governments at the highest level.

“The results remain unsatisfactory and there are many challenges due to climate change, the poor economic situation and the negative impacts of COVID -19 as well as the lack of public investments,” he said.

He added that national and local level actions and investments were also critical to addressing the issues of hunger in Africa.

He said there was an urgent need for the continent to build back and forward better after the COVID-19 pandemic, with governments being called on to invest in social protection measures to save the most vulnerable in society.

“The transformation of the African food system is crucial to help end hunger,” he said.

Haile-Gabriel added that the adoption of holistic multi sectoral approach was needed.

A representative of WFP, Chris Toe, said African countries needed to prioritise and scale up investments in rural transformation, sustainable infrastructure and human capital development as they worked toward eliminating hunger and food insecurity.

Toe noted that the approach would assist in Africa’s quest to achieve zero hunger as espoused in the SDGs and Africa’s 2025 commitment to end hunger and Agenda 2063 aspirations.

The Congolese Agriculture Minister, Mr Joseph-Antoine Kasongo, said the new administration was determined to accelerate the development of agriculture to end hunger.

A Congolese government official, Mukena Bantu, an adviser in charge of cooperation and projects, spoke on behalf of the minister.

“We have declared that the soil must take over the subsoil. There is political will to carry out all the actions necessary to achieve food security,” said Bantu.

The side event provided a platform for member states to reflect and share on transformative actions and investments that would facilitate the building of Africa’s food systems better.

The actions were toward meeting the aspirations and goals of the 2030 Agenda and the African Union’s Agenda 2063.

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