Director-General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), José Graziano da Silva, said on Thursday that Africa has made great strides in tackling hunger, having achieved a 30 percent drop in the proportion of its people facing hunger over the 1990-2015 period.
Graziano da Silva was speaking at the official opening of the FAO Regional Conference for Africa taking place this week in Abidjan, the capital of Côte d’Ivoire, with the theme ‘Transforming African Agri-food Systems for Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity’.
He added, however, that climate change, conflict and social inequality continue to present major challenges in the continent’s quest for a future free from hunger and want.
“Africa’s economic performance remains robust with growth rates above the global average. However, vulnerability to climate change is high, post-harvest losses are considerable, natural resources are being depleted, and not everyone is benefiting from the proceeds of the current strong economic growth,” Graziano da Silva said.
“Access to remunerative income, social protection systems and decent employment opportunities remain narrow for too many rural households,” he added.
He urged Africans to continue to work together to harness the power of the food and agriculture sector as a catalyst for inclusive growth, poverty reduction and fighting hunger.
“This conference adds momentum to the push for a fundamental shift in the orientation of Africa’s agricultural and rural development towards transforming the lives of Africans under the 2014 Malabo Declaration and outlined in the Africa’s Agenda 2063,” the FAO Director-General said.
Highlighting the challenges of food insecurity posed by the ongoing El Niño cycle in large parts of the African continent, especially the southern sub-region and parts of East Africa, as well as conflicts in Central African Republic, Somalia, and South Sudan, Graziano da Silva said the FAO was working in these hotspots to provide farmers with seeds, tools, and other support vital to maintaining and strengthening their ability to produce food and earn income.
“These crises vividly remind us of the importance of scaling up resilient interventions targeting vulnerable populations whose livelihoods mainly depend on agriculture, livestock, fisheries forestry and other renewable natural resources,” he said.
He also stressed the importance of preventing future disease epidemics like Ebola, which impacted food security and people’s livelihoods in West Africa, adding that FAO has recently launched a five-year programme in 13 African countries to monitor and tackle emerging pandemic threats at their source in animals.
The FAO Director-General said delivering on the 2025 Zero Hunger challenge as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will require the efforts of an alliance of partners, while pledging FAO’s readiness to support African member states in the delivery of the SDGs, in firm collaboration with the African Union, other regional institutions and humanitarian and development partners.
More than 300 people are participating in the conference, including 51 African Ministers of Agriculture and related sectors, as well as technical experts, development specialists, representatives of regional organizations and institutions, members of civil society and the private sector.
Source: Footprint to Africa