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FAO Director Warns of Rising Hunger in Africa, Calls for Transformation of Agrifood Systems at ARC33

The FAO Regional Ministerial Conference for Africa underscores the critical need for coordinated efforts to combat hunger and transform agrifood systems.

Shivam Dwivedi
FAO Director Warns of Rising Hunger in Africa, Calls for Transformation of Agrifood Systems (Photo Source: FAO)
FAO Director Warns of Rising Hunger in Africa, Calls for Transformation of Agrifood Systems (Photo Source: FAO)

Hunger levels across Africa have surged over the past two years, exacerbated by the lingering impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, ongoing conflicts, climate crises, and economic shocks. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has highlighted the urgent need for transformative actions to revamp the continent's agrifood systems. Director-General QU Dongyu highlighted the vast potential of Africa's resources and its youthful population, expressing optimism about the opportunities ahead.

Increasing Hunger Challenges:

Recent data reveals a troubling trend as hunger in Africa rose to 19.7% in 2022, doubling the global rate. This surge from pre-pandemic levels of 17% and 2012 estimates of 14.8% underscores the severity of the situation. In 2022, an alarming 868 million Africans lacked adequate food access, with approximately 146 million facing acute food insecurity in 36 countries. Disparities in hunger rates are stark, ranging from low levels in countries like Algeria and Ghana to over 50% in places like Madagascar and the Central African Republic.

During the 33rd Session of the FAO Regional Ministerial Conference for Africa (ARC33), Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch of Morocco emphasized the critical role of investment in agriculture. Morocco's commitment to enhancing irrigation, water efficiency, and rural income through agrifood initiatives aligns with the vision of Morocco's Green Generation plan championed by King Mohammed VI.

FAO's Strategic Framework:

The FAO's Strategic Framework 2022-31 centers around the "Four Betters" - focusing on production, nutrition, environment, and life quality. Director-General QU Dongyu emphasized that these principles are not mere aspirations but a crucial call to action for improving agrifood systems across Africa.

Despite challenges, Africa remains a region of immense potential, with many of the world's fastest-growing economies. The continent's shift towards a continental free trade area promises increased investment opportunities, positioning Africa as an attractive destination for stakeholders.

FAO Initiatives and Collaboration:

FAO's innovative initiatives in Africa include using drones for livestock reproduction in Rwanda, converting food waste to organic fertilizer in Côte d’Ivoire, and employing DNA sequencing to ensure avocado seedling integrity in Tanzania. The organization's collaborations have mobilized substantial resources, including over $91 million for African projects from global partners like the Global Environmental Facility and the Green Climate Fund.

Director-General QU Dongyu urged ministers at ARC33 to share knowledge and best practices, empowering each country to lead its agrifood transformation. FAO stands ready to continue supporting these endeavors, fostering inclusive policies, digitalization, and climate resilience strategies.

Through strategic partnerships, investments, and innovative approaches, Africa can leverage its vast resources and youthful population to build resilient and sustainable food systems for a better future. The commitment of leaders like Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch and FAO's initiatives signal a collective determination to address hunger and drive agricultural development across the continent.

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