Last year was an important year for Africa in its journey to building a healthy, food secure continent. A handful of key initiatives and events geared towards finding solutions for sustainable agriculture, feeding a growing population and providing jobs for young people were significant steps forward.
1. African leaders commit to self-sufficiency
Akinwumi Adesina is taking the agriculture world by storm with his passion and commitment. As President of the African Development he is working to radically transform Africa’s agriculture sector and put an end to food insecurity and malnutrition. His vision is an Africa that feeds itself.
He says “as someone who grew out of poverty, I know that poverty is not pretty, …my life mission is to lift millions of people out of poverty, especially farmers in rural areas of Africa. We must give hope and turn agriculture into a business across Africa to create wealth for African economies….We must make agriculture cool for young people”
Adesina was the winner of the 2017 World Food Prize for previous roles with the Foundation and his leadership in expanding food production in Nigeria, where he increased the availability of credit for smallholder farmers across Africa. He now plans to create 25 million jobs for young people through a new Presidential Youth Advisory Group.
2. Europe and Africa work hand in hand to drive investment in African agriculture
The Berlin Charter calls on national governments, development partners, financial institutions and young people to invest in smallholder farmers in Africa and help them access markets and finance and build that profits in rural areas. In July at the G20, the Africa Partnership Initiative was adopted and launched. The Partnerships G20 Compact with Africa reinforces co-operation between Europe and Africa to secure investment in food security, water, infrastructure, youth employment and women and girls.
Improving international frameworks for investment in Africa is crucial as the continent develops infrastructure, boosts mechanization and provides jobs for its growing population.
3. Harnessing the opportunity of Africa’s rising population
Researchers and have known that Africa’s population boom will have significant implications for food, water security jobs – particularly for young people – for a while. now there is optimism about how this opportunity can be harnessed to achieve the goals of the African Union Agenda 2063 for an ‘integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the international arena.’
The numbers are staggering. By 2050 Africa’s population is set to double to 2.5 billion, which means 3.5 million more people per month, or 80 per minute. By 2100, Africa will contribute 82% of total global population growth. The agricultural challenges that come with this growth include added pressure on fragile food systems, degraded soils potential for more famine, malnutrition, and hunger.
The reason for optimism is that Africa’s rising population could mean new national markets and consumers, more employment opportunities for young people and those living in rural areas, and of the agriculture sector resulting in economic transformation. Africa’s increasing population will be an asset if innovations are promoted, investments made and value chains reinforced.
4. COP 23 put agriculture back on the global agenda
An outcome COP23 negotiations in Bonn was the end of a deadlock on agriculture, which lasted years. Parties have agreed on a series of issues that link climate change and agriculture and countries have been asked to submit their views. The issues include how to improve soil carbon, fertility, adaptation and resilience, and creation of better livestock management systems. This is a major step forward in addressing the need to adapt agriculture to climate change and continue to meet the growing global demand for food.
The Paris Agreement has been ratified by 43 African states, many of which are already implementing policies to adapt to climate change and youth initiatives are holding their governments accountable for inaction. The Green Active Citizens Trust in Zimbabwe, are using technology and solar energy to increase the resilience of farmers. There is no doubt that Africa remains vulnerable to the effects of climate change but with increased mitigation and adaptation efforts the livelihoods of millions of farmers can be protected.
In 2018, we want to see the commitments shown by leaders in 2017 put into practice. Initiatives including the Africa Green Revolution Forum, the Bill and Melinda Gates Goalkeepers report, CIATs News and the Malabo Montpellier Panel work to end hunger and poverty in Africa. If the most promising and practical solutions can be captured, supported by and scaled up, we will look forward to another fruitful year.
The opinions represented in this blog do not necessarily reflect those of individual Malabo Montpellier Panel members and their organizations.