By Jimoh Babatunde
The Acting Managing Director , Alliance for Green Revolution Forum, AGRF, Jennifer Baarn, said, the AGRF 2021 Summit billed for Nairobi, Kenya on September 6-10 will be a defining moment for Africa’s food systems.
“This is our time to create our own vision for Africa’s food systems,” she said. It is our time to listen, innovate, plan and invest for Africa. What we invest in African agriculture today will determine the future of food in Africa and the world tomorrow,” she added.
Already, 500 guests, including governments, private sector, youth, women leaders and farmer organization have been lined up for the summit under the leadership of President Uhuru Kenyatta. They are expected to be joined virtually by over 10,000 delegates from more than 150 countries for the Summit, which will focus on accelerating progress towards the development of resilient food systems on the continent.
Under the theme of Pathways to Recovery and Resilient Food Systems, this year’s AGRF Summit will put a spotlight on new commitments to the future of African food systems and showcase how resilience will be built out of leadership at all levels.
The Summit will have a special focus on the role of women and youth in transforming Africa’s food systems with various issues faced by these groups expected to dominate the discussions at the First Ladies Forum and the Youth Hall respectively.
The former Prime Minister of Ethiopia and AGRF Board Chair, Hailemariam Dessalegn, said that he was inspired to see Africans leaders make Agriculture as priority but noted that a lot more needed to be done.
“Now more than ever we must prioritise inclusive agricultural transformation. We must work collaboratively to ensure that policy, technology and finances respond to the needs of our farmers. This is critical to achieve zero hunger across the continent and around the globe. H.E. Dessalegn added.
Co-organized with the Government of Kenya, with the support of 26 partner institutions, this year’s Summit comes at a pivotal time when global voices convene under the Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) to shift the conversation on how food is produced and consumed and the role it plays to support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
As part of its contribution to the UNFSS, the AGRF 2021 Summit aims to elevate the single, coordinated African voice, by identifying immediate actions and steps to be taken to accelerate progress towards the development of resilient food systems.
Representing the host government, Kenya’s Minister for Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives, the Hon. Peter Munya, said the conversation at the AGRF needs to extend beyond agriculture and consider the food system from farm to fork.
“We must change the way we approach and prioritize food systems on the continent. We can no longer limit food systems to the farm. Our approach must reflect the complexity and importance of food systems and value of collaboration, as governments, the private sector, development partners and consumers, to deliver more inclusive and resilient food systems on the continent,” he said.
COVID-19 highlighted the fragility of the continent’s food systems. Lockdowns, curfews and illnesses revealed threats in supply throughout Africa, and the pandemic was another example of the need to build more resilient food systems on the continent. Since 2014, droughts have cost the region US$372 billion. While the worst locust outbreak in a generation in Ethiopia and Somalia during 2019/20 destroyed over 356,000MT of cereals and almost 1.5 million hectares of crop and pasture in Ethiopia.
The AGRF 2021 Summit will provide a platform for all stakeholders to align on the actions and commitments needed to build resilient food systems which end hunger and support the delivery of the sustainable development goals.