In a stark revelation, the 2022 Africa Agriculture Status Report (AASR23) has brought to light a dire situation where approximately 650 million people, constituting 50 percent of Africa’s population, lack adequate economic or physical access to food.
This significant disparity in food access has raised serious concerns and highlights the urgent need to address challenges within African food systems, especially in the face of imminent climate change threats.
The AASR23, titled ‘Empowering Africa’s Food Systems,’ serves as an in-depth exploration of the vulnerabilities, hurdles, and transformative potential of the continent’s food systems.
This timely report provides comprehensive insights into the complexities of African food systems, encompassing socio-economic vulnerabilities, the pivotal role of knowledge and technology, and, most crucially, the pressing demand for innovative financing.
The Food Systems Countdown Initiative (FSCI) framework, encompassing 50 key indicators, reveals that sub-Saharan African countries lag behind the global average in 32 indicators, predominantly related to diets, nutrition, and health.
However, they fare better than the global average in the remaining 18 indicators, including aspects of food systems, greenhouse gas emissions, and biosphere integrity. This stark contrast is further magnified by the fact that up to 650 million Africans, constituting 50% of the continent’s population, face a daily struggle due to inadequate access to sufficient food to meet their minimum needs.
Dr. Agnes Kalibata, President of the AGRQA, emphasizes the pivotal role of innovative finance in ensuring Africa’s journey towards sustainable, resilient, and inclusive food systems. She underscores that as the continent grapples with the dual challenges of rapid population growth and climate change, finding new financing mechanisms becomes paramount in shaping a prosperous and secure food future for all its citizens.
Despite African governments’ commitment to tripling intra-African trade in agricultural commodities and services by 2025, as stated in the 2014 Malabo Declaration, this aspiration remains distant. In reality, this kind of trade has steadily declined from its peak in 2013 to less than 15 percent in 2022.
However, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), if fully implemented, holds the potential to increase household income by 9% by 2035, ultimately lifting 50 million people out of extreme poverty. Additionally, Africa could witness a substantial surge in foreign direct investment, ranging from 111% to 159%, under the AfCFTA.
The report takes an extensive dive into the underlying challenges that have historically hindered the realization of Africa’s abundant natural resources. While there have been advancements in food production, processing, and distribution, persistent challenges and failures have resulted in a deeply concerning state of food and nutrition security across the continent.
The report unveils a multifaceted web of challenges extending from production to consumption. Although daunting, these challenges serve as a clarion call for a collective response from governments, the private sector, communities, and individuals alike.
Dr. John M. Ulimwengu, the lead author of the report, highlights that the findings not only shed light on current challenges but also chart a course for future actions. They offer guidance for steering the continent toward food systems where every African can access sustainable, healthy diets.