The Vice President of AGRA in charge of Program Innovation and Delivery is calling for improved partnerships between agricultural sector stakeholders globally to help fix Africa’s food insecurity challenges.
Aggie Asiimwe Konde observes it is worrying that some people on the continent can only afford one meal a day when there are abundant opportunities to produce enough to feed everybody.
“The last 50 years have created fundamental baselines that can help transform food systems. We have a lot of knowledge on how to ensure resilient crops. We are sure about technologies that need to be adopted.
“Collaborations are needed. Our works need to be grounded in ensuring sustainable food systems. It’s not enough to work alone,” she noted.
She was speaking at the International Conference on Innovations to Transform Drylands in Hyderabad, India. The conference organized by the International Crop Research Institute for the Semi–Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is on the theme “Innovations to Transform Drylands.”
Ms. Konde says conscious efforts are needed to help scale up innovations and ensure appropriate technology transfer to improve Africa’s food security situation. She commended African governments including the Ghana government for their efforts to ensure food security.
“I am inspired by the commitments of governments. Not enough credit is given to governments. But governments are working to ensure they can feed their people. While there is slow progress on the CADDP (Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Program) commitments, there is accelerated momentum and commitments from heads of states to make this happen. And we are seeing that,” she observed.
“37 countries in Africa committed to food systems transformation… We also saw some outliers, Ghana, Malawi, and Rwanda, committing to clear pathways on how they are going to do that. Another win for Africa… The momentum is there. The tide is there. We are all sold that food system transformation is our way out now. We have to ensure we have the right partnerships…,” the AGRA vice president added.
Ms. Konde said despite the need for all African governments and partners to work together to deal with food insecurity challenges, the required priorities will be different in various countries. She for example called for enhanced efforts to tackle the obesity challenge in Ghana. “Ghana is not struggling with the cost of food as much although it is a major challenge. But look at obesity. Almost 30% of Ghanaians are obsessed. That is something we need to bring down…,” she said.
The conference has brought together global experts from research, academia, industry, startups, governments, and civil society, to deliberate on new and innovative approaches to address food insecurity challenges globally.
Ms. Konde says AGRA which was previously known as the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, is doing its part to ensure food security in Africa. She explained AGRA was set up by former Ghanaian diplomat, the late Kofi Annan to support African countries to build a transformed African system. AGRA is working to ensure zero hunger, improved nutrition, end to poverty, and strengthened climate adaptation. “We need empowered farmers to do these,” she said.
Ms. Konde said AGRA is working to ensure the use of appropriate data to tackle food insecurity challenges. “We have been able to map all the 11 countries where we are working. So we know what is broken… In Ghana, the most broken node in Ghana is quality assurance. How do we work together to reduce that gap to ensure the private sector can invest in these areas?” she quizzed.
She said over the last 16 years, AGRA has been able to reach about 26 million farmers with various forms of support to improve agriculture. “We’ve been able to build some functional food systems. We have supported some PhD candidates… We have been able to show what it takes to build a public–private sector partnership systems,” she disclosed.
“We must build systems for inclusive agricultural transformation. We must leverage our partnerships and bring our collective expertise and resources to ensure that everyone has access to nutritious and affordable food,” she charged conference attendees.
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