Africa Climate Summit 2023: Invest in resilient, efficient and sustainable food system, leaders urge

Minimising post-harvest food losses and waste, transiting to nature-based solution, among solutions advocated 

By Tony Malesi
Published: Wednesday 06 September 2023
Photo: iStock__

African governments have been urged to scale up investment in agriculture to support farmers’ transition to a more efficient, resilient and sustainable food system.

Speaking at the Africa Climate Summit (ACS23) in Nairobi, several leaders including the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) assistant director-general and regional representative for Africa, Abebe Haile-Gabriel, rooted for climate-resilient food systems.

“Extreme weather events attributable to climate change are wreaking havoc on agriculture and food production across the globe and in particular Africa. We must urgently strengthen food systems and build resilience, besides fostering our adaptive capacity,” he said. 

Africa has to accelerate climate action, focusing on resilient and sustainable food systems that deliver food security and nutrition for all without straining the environment and putting future generations at risk, stressed FAO.

“Agrifood systems can contribute immensely to the fight against climate change. By, for instance, improving animal husbandry, countries will significantly cut down greenhouse gas emissions from livestock production,” Abebe said. 

Other options include minimising post-harvest food losses and waste, transiting to nature-based solutions and decarbonising aquatic food value chains, he added.

“Africa can also drastically reduce fertiliser usage by turning crop residues into useful bio-products such as manure. The same can also be used to create textiles and as fuel sources and help halt deforestation,” he said.

Several other speakers urged the continent to develop the resilience of communities towards climate shocks and other related crises that affect agriculture and food production.

Adjustments in global climate finance architecture

African Development Bank (AfDB) President Akinwumi Adesini urged governments to develop strategies and practices on climate-smart agriculture to ensure food security across the continent.

Akinwumi said: 

As we gather here, we can hear the voices of farmers whose crops and livestock have been destroyed and died, the voices of fisher folk whose catch is drastically reducing, the voices of women and children who bear the brunt of climate change.

“We must ensure Africa’s food and agriculture systems are climate resilient. Africa Development Bank’s flagship programme, Technologies for African Agriculture Transformation, has provided over 12 million farmers in 21 countries with climate-resilient agricultural technologies,” he added.

Inclusion of women, youth

Meanwhile, at the ongoing Africa Food Systems Summit 2023 being held in Tanzania, the country’s President Samia Hassan Suluhu called for the inclusion of women and youth in the transformation of food systems.

“Some of the low-hanging fruits that Tanzania has taken advantage of to scale up food production include instituting incentives that make agriculture an appealing venture to rural women and young people,” said President Suluhu, sharing some success stories from her country. 

The theme of the summit being held during September 5-8, 2023 is “Recover, Regenerate, Act: Africa’s Solutions to Food Systems Transformation”. Its focus is on building back better food systems and food sovereignty with youth and women at the center.

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