This year FAO sets “Transforming African Agri-food systems for inclusive growth and a shared prosperity” as its theme for the 29th Session of its Regional Conference for Africa (4-8 April, 2016).
More than 50 African Ministers of Agriculture and related sectors from FAO Member countries, high-level technical experts, representatives of regional organizations and institutions, the civil society and about 100 accredited media gather in Abidjan this week to take stock of progress made in food security and nutrition on the continent and agree on priority areas for the next two years.
“Global trends and issues are expected to have direct or indirect impacts on the food and agriculture sector, with specific manifestations and impacts in the Africa region”, explained Mr. Bukar Tijani, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa, in his opening remarks at the Senior Technical Officers Meeting(4-6 April 2016) that precedes the Ministerial Roundtable (7-8 April 2016).
“The national and regional actions that FAO can most effectively support in this context will be firmly grounded in the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) through the Malabo Implementation Strategy and Road Map and the commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals”,
Mr. Tijani added.
FAO priority areas in Africa will continue to focus on food security and nutrition; fight against poverty; climate mitigation and adaptation and sustainable use of natural resources, including energy and water scarcity; protection against transboundary animal and plant diseases and pests, and food safety threats; agri-food systems development and employment and trade, with a particular attention to gender and youth.
Tackling global trends and issues in food and agriculture
Three important global developments in 2014-2015 will frame national and regional action and FAO’s work in food and agriculture in the future: the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Paris Agreement adopted as an outcome of the UN Global Climate Change Conference (COP21), and the Rome Declaration on Nutrition and the Framework for Action adopted by the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2).
“The eradication of hunger remains at the heart of FAO. To date, the organization has helped deliver more than 90 agriculture and food investment projects across 40 countries, and these figures will continue to grow”, said with confidence the FAO Regional Representative for Africa.
The organization has provided substantial assistance in policy formulation, including the design and implementation of the ECOWAS Zero Hunger Initiative and the CAADP Regional and National Agriculture Investment Plans to address food security and nutrition.
FAO has developed a number of successful relationships with partner organizations to achieve this mandate and seeks to cultivate new partnerships with the private sector as this year’s Conference will explore opportunities in Public-Private Partnerships for Inclusive Growth.
Expanding regional initiatives for development
FAO has focused and integrated its work in the Region through three main Regional Initiatives. The Initiatives respond to the priorities of member States and will achieve demonstrable impact in a time bound manner, whilst responding to FAO’s Strategic Objectives.
In Africa, the Regional Initiatives were developed based on an in-depth cross-sectoral and interdisciplinary review of regional issues. They call for accelerated action by member countries in the fight against hunger (Africa’s Commitment to End Hunger by 2025); promote sustainable proven innovative practices and principles of production and post-production processes (Sustainable Production Intensification and Value Chain Development in Africa); and aim at strengthening resilience among vulnerable farming communities and pastoralists (Building Resilience in Africa’s Drylands).
“This experience about targeting specific actions for specific contexts has placed sharp focus on the critical role of policy, governance and institutional dimensions in successful programme implementation”, reported Mr. Bukar Tijani, adding that “it has also highlighted the need for improved data and statistics and the importance of addressing cross-cutting issues such as gender, climate change, nutrition and resilience building against crises and shocks.”
In the same vein, the Africa Solidarity Trust Fund (ASTF) is an innovative Africa-led fund to support Africa for African development initiatives. Its main goal is to strengthen food security across the continent by assisting countries and their regional organizations to eradicate hunger and malnutrition, eliminate rural poverty and manage natural resources in a sustainable manner.
The fund has allocated USD 35.5 million to 15 regional programmes and national projects covering 39 countries to boost efforts to eradicate hunger, widen market access, and support income and employment generation. During this biennium, the ASTF will also aim to support the establishment of an “African Centre for best practices, capacity development and South-South Cooperation (SSC)” in collaboration with AU and NEPAD.
Through more regional initiatives of this kind, FAO will seek to accelerate and strengthen the programming, mechanisms, capacity and delivery actions needed to translate into results the commitment to end hunger by 2025.
The opening session on Monday was chaired by the Ivorian Minister of Animal Resources and Fisheries, Mr. Kobenan Adjoumani, in the presence of the Ivorian Minister of Agriculture, Mamadou Coulibaly Sangafowa, and the FAO Deputy Director-General, Coordinator for Natural Resources, Ms. Maria Helena Semedo.
Source: FAO (Abidjan)