DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (PAMACC News) - A newly published report focusing on agriculture in Africa warns that without locally led climate action, communities' distress will not only be confined to hunger and malnutrition, but it will extend to economic, social, and environmental domains, with the potential to undermine the progress made over the years.
The annual Africa Agriculture Status Report (AASR 2023), titled “Empowering Africa’s Food Systems” underscores the need to address the challenges affecting African food systems considering the imminent threat posed by climate change and the potential consequences of inaction.
"These findings are not just a reflection of the current challenges but also a roadmap for future actions, guiding the continent towards food systems where every African will have access to sustainable, healthy diets," said Dr. John M. Ulimwengu, the report's lead author.
So far, food systems in Africa face a range of challenges, which vary from one region to another and can be influenced by factors such as climate, infrastructure, limited access to technology, poor soil health, governance, limited access to markets, and inflation among others.
Part of the report shows that in many parts of Africa, farmers do not have access to agricultural inputs and services, which include quality seeds, fertilizers, agricultural machinery, irrigation systems, advisory services, credit, and insurance leading to failed impact on food systems.
"Without these, farming can become less efficient and productive leading to potential failures in food systems," said Dr. John Ulimwengu, the report’s lead author.
The report further points out that promotion of sustainable farming practices through organic farming, permaculture, and other climate-smart practices that improve soil health and biodiversity is also critical for sustainable food systems in Africa.
So far, AGRA has been promoting Regenerative Agriculture (RA) farming techniques in Kenya, particularly in semi-arid parts of the country. In Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Rwanda, AGRA is promoting the use of lime to treat soils that have become acidic and are affected by aluminum toxicity.
"This report strives to show that Innovative Finance is not just a buzzword – it is an essential tool for Africa's journey towards sustainable, resilient, and inclusive food systems. As the continent faces the dual challenges of rapid population growth and climate change, finding new financing mechanisms will be paramount in shaping a prosperous and food-secure future for all its citizens," said AGRA President, Dr. Agnes Kalibata.
Intra Africa Trade
The report also highlights the potential of digital technology innovative financing, and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to significantly transform food systems in Africa.
Operational since January 2021, AfCFTA is one of the largest free trade areas in the world by the number of participating countries. The Agreement aims to create a single continental market for goods and services with free movement of persons and investments.
According to the researchers, increased market access, particularly by reducing tariffs and non-tariff barriers, the AfCFTA can easily open up new market opportunities for farmers and food businesses, enabling them to reach consumers across the continent.
Off the Track on Food Systems Countdown Initiative
Out of the 50 indicators outlined in the Food Systems Countdown Initiative (FSCI) framework, sub-Saharan African countries are performing worse than the global average in a total of 32 indicators, mostly related to diets, nutrition, and health.
However, sub-Saharan African countries are performing better than the global average in the remaining 18 indicators, including those on food systems' greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and biosphere integrity. The above is accentuated by the fact that up to 650 million Africans—half of the continent's population—lack economic or physical access to sufficient food to meet their minimum needs every day (BCG, 2021).
The findings reiterate that empowering African food systems requires a multi-faceted approach that includes technological advancements, innovation and knowledge, digital revolution, trade, and innovative financing for a sustainable future.
"The increasing threat of climate and non-climate shocks and stressors only make the promotion of practices that build resilience and sustainability even more essential," reads part of the report.