FACED with various circumstances surrounding the security of food systems in Africa and Nigeria, implementable solutions have to be on ground to curb food insecurities. Challenges like climate change, insecurity, pests and insects, have continue to peeve smallholder farmers and their crops.
It is no more news that various modern agro-practices have began to spring up to help tame these challenges. With emphasis on climate change, which remains a major challenge to farmers, stakeholders in the agricultural sector have rubbed minds together in finding ways to cushion the heightened spate of this challenging contributing factor.
With the ongoing 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as “COP26” in Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom, world leaders have trooped in their numbers to converge and brood over providing a sustainable food system devoid of opposing challenging effects of climate change.
Stakeholders like the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), have made their marks in the sands of time to provide succour for smallholder farmers. In this interview, Former Ethiopian Prime Minister and Board Chairman of AGRA, Mr. Hailemariam Desalegn highlights solutions towards overcoming challenges that affect food systems in Africa.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE REFLECTIONS FROM THE 2021 AFRICAN GREEN REVOLUTION FORUM (AGRF) THAT WAS HELD IN NAIROBI, KENYA?
The AGRF is one of the forums that is centered on agriculture and food system. With ten years of existence, the forum has not only gained wide recognition within the shores of Africa but has attracted participants globally. The forum is tailored towards transforming and building a robust agro-economy.
In this year’s edition, more than eight thousand participants were drawn from hundred countries. Some of the participants included heads of states, investors, researchers, academia’s, youths, women and small holder farmers respectively.
The forum was able to achieve its core mandates of bringing together relevant stakeholders in the agricultural value chain.
WITH THE RECENT CONCLUSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS FOOD SYSTEM SUMMIT, WHAT’S NEXT FOR AFRICA?
We were able to discuss issues affecting the growth of the food sector. Food system involves food production, consumption, and the nutritional value of each food to the human body.
Malnutrition, obesity and insufficient food security were some of the issues discussed at the summit. Public-private partnership was encouraged as investors were advised to key into the sector towards boosting the food security of their nations. The smallholder farmers where not left out as various issues affecting them were also raised. A global agreement was reached towards supporting the farmers in order to perform effectively.
Issues of climate change, droughts and flood were discussed, these issues are part of the numerous issues affecting the growth of agriculture both in Africa and other parts of the world.
AS CONFERENCE OF THE PARTIES (COP) 26 APPROACHES, WHAT ARE THE KEY ACTIONS NEEDED TO BE TAKEN IN ORDER TO ADDRESS CLIMATE CHANGE CHALLENGES IN THE WORLD?
Africa as a continent contribute less when it comes to climate change issues, also Africa suffers more from climate change issues. Promises and commitments were made towards climate justice but most of the promises were never implemented. AGRA as an umbrella body will seek for immediate attention towards such issues affecting our continent at COP26. Similarly, Africans need to boost the resilience of our farmers, we need to educate them on how to adapt to climate change issues and find lasting solutions to the problems. Technology is playing a vital role in the adaptation of climate change.
WHAT ARE THE KEY INITIATIVES AGRA IS PUTTING IN PLACE IN ORDER TO TRANSFORM THE FOOD SYSTEM IN AFRICA?
As a PAN African institution, AGRA is working closely with smallholder farmers in educating them on modern agro-practices that are user friendly on the African soil. Similarly, as a catalytic, we are working closely with both government and the private sector towards improving food security and boosting the local production of food.
We also play a vital role in policy formulation and capacity building. Worthy to mention is the collaborative effort that led to the formulation of the Seed Bill and the Fertilizer System bill being implemented in Nigeria. AGRA as an organization is working with the various sectors that are involved in the agricultural value chain.
WHY IS AGRA PARTICIPATING IN THE NIGERIA ECONOMIC FORUM?
Nigeria economic summit is one of the best on the continent. Our participation in the forum is a way of lending our support to Nigeria in its drive towards achieving an all-inclusive economic transformation. As a country with more than twenty million small holder farmers, Agra is passionate towards changing the economic lives of farmers both in Nigeria and other parts of Africa. The economic forum is an avenue for the private sector to invest in agriculture as it will boost the food system of Nigeria.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR YOUTHS WHO ARE THINKING OF INVESTING IN THE FOOD SECTOR?
In order for youths to get involved themselves in agriculture, we as individuals need to change the negative narratives and involve in modern agronomic practices. A large number of youths are technologically sound and are aware of the opportunities that exist in the digital economy. Transforming the sector from a backward sector to a digitally driven sector is key towards achieving an all-inclusive agro-economy.
For youths to get involved in agriculture, government at all levels needs to modernize and digitalize the food sector in other to attract the hearts of the younger generation. Agra is at the verge of supporting the systemic change in the agricultural sector.