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Africa News of Wednesday, 8 September 2021

Source: Nana Yaw Reuben Jnr, Contributor

Africa Agriculture Status report 2021 unveiled at AGRF Summit in Kenya Nairobi

Some stakeholders at the launch in a group photography Some stakeholders at the launch in a group photography

The 2021 Africa Agriculture Status Report (AASR21) was launched today at the AGRF Summit in Nairobi, Kenya. The report addresses the challenges and opportunities in the creation of sustainable and resilient agri-food systems in Africa.

It explores what Building Resilient and Sustainable Food Africa Systems entail, and calls for the necessary actions by governments, pan- African organizations, bilateral and multilateral development partners, and the private sector.

“This year’s AASR21 details the practical steps all stakeholders from governments and regional organizations to the private sector need to take to rebuild and enhance Africa’s food systems,” said Dr. Agnes Kalibata, President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that despite the progress we’ve made over the last decade, Africa’s food systems remain fragile to external shocks.

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,” Dr. Kalibata added.

Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) 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 cropland, over yield increases. With Africa’s population expected to double to nearly 2,5 billion by 2050, now is the time for stakeholders to put the steps in place to increase production without compromising the continent’s natural resources.

"Raising yields and productivity on existing farmland is among the most important ways to make African food systems more resilient and sustainable. 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," said Andrew Cox, AGRA's Chief of Staff and Strategy.

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.

“One of the first steps is meaningfully increasing public investments in agricultural research, development, and extension. While agricultural R&D spending has risen over the years, in SSA public investments amount to less than 1 percent of the agricultural GDP in most countries,” Dr. Jayne added.

The report 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).

The AASR21 was launched at the 11th edition of the AGRF Summit, an annual gathering that brings together heads of state and government, agriculture ministers, members of the civil society, private sector leaders, scientists, and farmers in discussions that define the future of Africa’s food systems.

Under the theme Pathways to Recovery and Resilient Food Systems, this year’s AGRF Summit will explore the pathways and actions needed to steer the continent towards food systems that deliver sufficient and nutritious food, protect the environment and create sustainable jobs.