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Africa should collaborate to transform food, nutrition system – Ethiopian ex-PM

Former Ethiopian Prime Minister, Mr Hailemariam Desalegn, has emphasised the need for African leaders to collaborate to transform the continent’s food and nutrition system.

Hailemariam Desalegn
Former Ethiopian Prime Minister, Mr Hailemariam Desalegn

Desalegn said this at the opening of the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) 2021 Summit Launch, held in a hybrid format on Wednesday, July 7, 2021. 

The former Ethiopian prime minister also stressed the need for collaboration to achieve the aims of the AU Malabo Declaration and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

He said: “I emphasise the need for collaboration. The evidence is clear; we need to transform our food system and we need to do it now.

“With four years left to go to achieve the aim of the AU Malabo Declaration and nine years left to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, there is need for collaboration and we must drive a more intentional agenda with more partners. 

“We all have to be part of the movement for change if we have to improve our food systems. 

“We need to widen our connections and deepen our interactions through a dialogue process to shift our perspectives for new solutions.”

Desalegn, who is also the Board Chairman of Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), recalled his recent visits to Nigeria, Ghana and Burkina Faso to find out the priorities in agriculture and food and nutrition security. 

“In the past week, I went to West Africa and met with the presidents of Ghana, Nigeria and Burkina Faso, where we discussed the priorities of their respective governments in agriculture development, and food and nutrition security, especially in the context of COVID-19 pandemic and climate change. 

“While there has been significant progress, there is still a lot that needs to be covered. African food systems are not working for all its people and are widely considered broken.

“The pandemic has made it more urgent to prioritise inclusive agricultural transformation and drive efforts to promote food and nutrition security and resilient and sustainable food systems across the continent and around the globe. 

“2021 will be a crucial year for the continent as we look to build back better and stronger ahead of the UN food system summit.” 

He further called on global leaders to join in the forthcoming AGRF Summit scheduled for Sept. 6 to Sept. 10 in Nairobi, Kenya. 

Mrs Jennifer Baarn, the acting Managing Director of AGRF, said that “the theme of this year’s summit is on the Pathways Toward Recovery and Resilient Food Systems”. 

Baarn said: “I am really calling on all to showcase how we will accelerate our delivery toward our 2030 target, how we can work together in partnership, and how we can make sure that the voice of the priorities of Africa resonate across the globe.”

The launch was a build-up to the 2021 summit holding in September, which would bring together stakeholders in the agriculture sector to take practical actions and share lessons to move Africa’s agriculture forward. 

The summit is expected to feature new commitments to the continent’s future food systems on equitable livelihoods, nutrition and health, resilience and competitiveness.

By Temitope Ponle

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