By Fortune Eromosele, Abuja

The African Green Revolution Forum, AGRF 2021 Summit, Tuesday, kicked off in Nairobi, Kenya convening about 7,000 participants virtually, including African presidents, agriculture Ministers, agricultural stakeholders and experts to discuss ways the continent can transform food systems and accelerate progress to eradicating hunger and poverty.

Hosted by the Government of Kenya, through the Ministry of Agriculture, the summit will run till Friday, 10 September with the theme “Pathways to recovery and resilient food systems”.

In line with the upcoming global UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS), the AGRF Summit intends to unite and elevate a single coordinated voice to the UNFSS, that will call for accelerated progress and post pandemic recovery towards inclusive agricultural transformation.

Recall that on August 17, 2021, the AGRF had launched the agribusiness deal room in Abuja, with the Minister of Industry, Trade, and Investment, Adeniyi Adebayo, present at the launch of the platform, where he stated that the platform provides opportunities for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to participate in the forum that would enhance the growth of their businesses.

He said the country would participate at the upcoming event by presenting opportunities in palm oil and cassava among other value chains, stressing that Nigeria is very open for business.

In a virtual press conference monitored by Vanguard, the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) Board Chair, Hailemariam Dessalegn said that the Summit marks a defining moment for transforming the continent’s food systems.

He said: “Africa’s agriculture transformation will only happen if we collectively decide to advance past commitments. We know the binding constraints that have hindered progress in achieving national and continental agriculture priorities.

“This Summit brings us together to collaborate and hone our leadership and technical skills useful in unlocking sector implementation challenges. By actioning commitments and discussing challenges on our way, we can partner to empower African communities.”

Also speaking, Kenya’s Minister for Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives, Peter Munya, said youth and women need to be the cornerstone of any solution for transforming Africa’s food systems.

According to him, “Engaging the youth and women in achieving food systems transformation is key to realising inclusive progress in the agriculture sector. Today, African youth and women represent an indispensable resource and as Government, we are tasked to ensure their energies and talents work to achieve our nation’s food and nutrition agenda.

“The Youth Town Hall during this summit will be integral for leaders and agricultural stakeholders to listen and chart ways the youth can be employed to advance food systems transformation, and I hope this roadmap will be embraced by other African countries.”

In the same vein, the Acting Managing Director AGRF, Ms. Jennifer Baarn stressed that “The AGRF 2021 Summit is critical for Africa’s agricultural and food systems development. However, if we do not advance the commitments we make today and throughout this week, we will not get to zero hunger. As Africa reels and rebuilds from the impact of COVID-19, rebuilding efforts must include smallholder farmers, the youth and women as they represent a sizeable percentage of Africa’s population. Our discussions should be inclusive and our plans hereafter should be achievable.”

Earlier, the 2021 Africa Agriculture Status Report (AASR21) was launched, with the report addressing 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 entails, and calls for the necessary actions by governments, panAfrican organizations, bilateral and multilateral development partners, and the private sector.

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.

“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,” according to 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,” she 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).

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