Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) announces USD 10 billion groundbreaking “Africa and Middle East SAFE Initiative.”

Abu Dhabi, UAE — Countries and Institutions from Africa and the Middle East joined forces under the facilitation of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) to officially introduce the groundbreaking “Africa and Middle East SAFE Initiative.” This landmark initiative endeavors to Scale-up Agriculture and Food systems for Economic development in Africa and the Middle East and aims to benefit millions of people whose livelihoods are threatened by the climate crisis.

The Africa and Middle East SAFE Initiative, a groundbreaking USD 10 billion public-private partnership, represents collaborative efforts to tackle the urgent issues of food security, climate change, and rural livelihood vulnerability. Emphasizing the centrality of food security in COP28 discussions, the initiative demonstrates a dedicated commitment to advancing sustainable development and resilience in Africa and the Middle East through comprehensive and holistic strategies.

During the launch event, government and institutional representatives expressed strong support for the initiative, underlining its significance in addressing critical issues on a regional scale. “We cannot approach the food security problem without a comprehensive approach. It is rare to find a program like the SAFE initiative, which will bring economic development in a multi-dimensional way, bringing public and private sectors together,” H.E. Khaled Mahdi, Secretary General, Supreme Council for Planning and Development, State of Kuwait remarked.  “There is an urgent need to ease access for developing countries to climate finance and technology, and in particular taking into account the current levels of internal and external debt of the African countries. It is therefore important we offer these countries investment opportunities. We capitalize on the Africa SAFE initiative as an approach to improve the lives of people in Africa in a sustainable and climate resilient manner, ” H.E. Hala Helmy el-Said, Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Arab Republic of Egypt remarked.

By leveraging Africa’s agricultural potential and the Middle East’s investment capacity, the Africa and Middle East SAFE Initiative aims to unlock green investments, promote climate-smart agriculture for rural farmers, and create green jobs, all geared towards securing a sustainable future for these regions. Comprising the Technical Assistance Fund (TAF) and Investment Platform (IP), the Initiative sets ambitious goals, aiming to irrigate 2 million hectares of African farmland, enhance climate resilience for 10 million smallholder farmers (with a specific focus on women and young people), and effectively address food security challenges. “With food security and agriculture production at the heart of the economic sector of Côte d’Ivoire, this initiative will support particularly youth and women. On behalf of H.E. Alassane Ouattara the country is happy to provide support to the SAFE initiative,” Côte d’Ivoire State Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development and Food Production, Mr. Kobenan Kouassi Adjoumani said. 

GGGI is committed to facilitating ongoing dialogues and shaping the potential of the initiative. “This initiative is poised to make a substantial impact by not only addressing immediate challenges but also contributing to the long-term well-being of Africa and the Middle East,” Dr. Frank Rijsberman GGGI’s Director General said. “GGGI is dedicated to facilitating the Africa and Middle East SAFE Initiative, coordinating diverse stakeholder voices to ensure its successful progression toward climate-resilient agriculture and sustainable food systems in Africa and the Middle East,” Dr. Frank Rijsberman added.

Operationalization of the initiative will be supervised by a Board representing participating countries and institutions. GGGI’s Regional Office for MENA will serve as the Secretariat for the Board of the Africa and Middle East SAFE Initiative.

Re-Gain: Green Climate Fund and AGRA partner to transform Africa’s food systems

Despite the challenges posed by the climate crisis, Africa holds tremendous potential to become the world’s breadbasket. The opportunities and challenges facing Africa’s food systems are immense. The continent possesses 60 per cent of the world’s unused arable land and has the potential to accelerate agricultural productivity by 2 or 3 times. Additionally, Africa has the capacity to create a food market worth USD 1 trillion by 2030. However, it must address the dual challenge of escalating food and nutrition insecurity impacting nearly 300 million people while grappling with the intensifying effects of the climate crisis.

Recognising that agriculture and food systems are major levers for Africa’s green growth, the Green Climate Fund (GCF), in collaboration with the AGRA launched Re-Gain, a groundbreaking regional programme that will support Africa in realising its promise as a food production powerhouse.

Announced at the African Heads of States Food Systems Session at COP28, this initiative will enhance African smallholders’ access to technologies, make food loss reduction solutions more accessible and affordable, and support the creation of enabling environments for transitioning food systems.

With project preparation funding from GCF to support development of the programme, GCF and AGRA will work together in designing and implementing an initiative to leverage over USD 100 million in financing to support the wide scale adoption of food loss solutions, in partnership with the private sector. Already, a group of countries including Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia have joined this initiative, and further participation is expected in subsequent phases.

The financial support will enable partners and participating countries to conduct necessary diagnostics and consultations, align programmes with country priorities and climate science, and deliver meaningful impact to African smallholders.

This initiative is on track to become the first project developed through GCF’s pilot Project Specific Assessment Approach (PSAA). PSAA is a new funding modality that aims to streamline and broaden access to GCF resources by working with new partners, countries, and technologies, that have been underserved by the existing GCF Accredited Entity network.

“GCF is proud to partner with AGRA on Re-Gain, which has the potential to transform Africa’s food systems. When implemented, this initiative will mobilise private capital at scale and help lower the cost of innovative solutions to prevent food loss and improve the wellbeing and livelihoods of smallholders, their families, and communities. This is also the first programme to come out of a GCF pilot that expands access to funding for organisations that are not accredited to GCF,” said Mafalda Duarte, GCF Executive Director.

“Underestimating the repercussions of food loss can inadvertently downplay its profound effects on the critical issue of food security. This programme is timely in expediting innovative solutions for the various dimensions of food loss, from post-harvest losses to supply chain inefficiencies at both the national, regional and international levels,” said Dr. Agnes Kalibata, AGRA President.

“Addressing post-harvest losses requires a multi-faceted approach that includes investments in infrastructure, technology dissemination, and the creation of effective market linkages. With proper investment and partnership amongst key stakeholders, it is possible to empower African smallholders, enhance food security, and contribute to the overall economic development of the region,” said H.E. Hailemariam Desalegn, Former Prime Minister of Ethiopia and AGRA Board Chair.

The ‘Loss and Damage Fund’ must work for the most vulnerable

Co-authored by Dr. Agnes Kalibata (President of Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa) & Amath Pathe SENE (Managing Director of the Africa Food Systems Forum)

As the world converges in Dubai for COP28 today, the urgent need to massively scale up action to address the “loss and damage” from climate change becomes increasingly clear in developing countries. Climate change is now an undeniable reality, causing irreversible losses and damages to the most vulnerable communities, ecosystems, and regions around the world, particularly in Africa. The principle of “Loss and Damage” highlights the need to go beyond adaptation and mitigation and acknowledges the irreversible adverse impacts and the economic losses that is already under way as a result of years of inaction/ denial and lack of attention to climate change issues. Unfortunately, the most vulnerable countries in the world have the least ability to stop or even protect themselves from the impact of climate change. For these countries, a functional Loss and damage Fund will go a long way to help recover from damage and build some form of resilience.  Make no mistake, neither this fund nor anything for that matter can bring back life that is lost or recover years of livelihood that is lost in one night of a flood in Rwanda, Kenya, Pakistan or Bangladesh to name but a few.  So this is not about reparations. 

It is now a very well-known fact that Africa has contributed very little to the climate crisis at less than three percent of global emissions.  Nonetheless, it is the continent that suffers the most from the losses and damages induced by climate change and has the least resilience and lowest adaptive capacities.

Home to over 1.4 billion people, Africa is the most vulnerable region in the world to climate change-induced natural disasters including extreme temperatures, recurring droughts, floods including riverine floods, dust storms, and heatwaves, as well as extreme weather events and rising sea levels. These impacts disproportionately affect vulnerable region such as the Sahel, the Horn of Africa and the countries along the Equator but also African communities, primarily smallholder farmers who represent 60 percent of the workforce in food systems value chains producing 70-80 percent of the continent’s food.

Climate change related damages are significantly pronounced in agriculture because of the sector’s dependence on rainfall in Africa. This affects not only livelihoods and food security, but also energy production, water resources, the environment, health, and the gross domestic product (GDP), particularly when the losses force governments to redirect public resources to food imports, social protection and food aid to address humanitarian crises and losses and damages caused by climate shocks. In the affected countries, where agriculture is a key sector (accounting for more than 43 percent of GDP in 2018), these impacts can reduce national GDP by up to four percent per year. Of course, this has now been exacerbated by COVID19 and the global security situation which has reduced average national GDP by up to 10%.

These adverse conditions and more frequent extreme climate events make it increasingly difficult for farmers to produce, store, and market food. Food shortages cause prices to rise and contribute to price volatility. This, in turn, fuels poverty and social and political marginalization, leaving a growing cohort of young people at risk and giving rise to violent extremism. Today, climate change has potentially far-reaching implications for national, regional, and global stability and security in economic, social, and environmental terms.

In the debate on the reform of the global financial system, it is also important to highlight the rising debt levels of African countries and the increasing frequency and severity of climate shocks that are slowing growth and eroding decades of developmental gains. The compounding nature of these challenges has deteriorated these countries’ public finances, weakening their resilience to climate shocks, and limiting their capacity to address losses and damages from climate impacts further. According to the IMF-World Bank Debt Sustainability Framework for Low-Income Countries (LIC-DSF), seven African countries are already in debt distress, 18 are at high risk, and 13, at moderate risk. In 2019, Cyclones Idai and Kenneth drove Mozambique’s public debt to almost 110 percent of its GDP, these difficulties are compounded by the impacts of more recent crises, namely the Russia-Ukraine and the Israel-Palestine wars and increasing dollar interest rates that are seriously undermining efforts of developing nations the most important SDGs of keeping poverty under check and the ability of nations to feed their people (SDGs 1 and 2).

At COP27, in Egypt last year, the decision to create the Loss and Damage Fund represented a historical breakthrough, as it recognized the injustice in the distribution of the burden and responsibility of copying with the impact of climate changes. The stated goal of the Loss and Damage Fund is to provide financial assistance to developing countries to deal with the negative consequences of climate change and help them rebuild the necessary physical and social infrastructure.

Since last year, negotiations have been underway to address many considerations and make this fund operational. Recognizing the urgent need for a coordinated response, it is the hope and expectation of many that leaders at COP28 come up with the resources for the fund’s establishment and define a clear timeframe for its operationalization. We appreciate the amount of work underway to operationalize this fund with the consensus now to host it at the World Bank for a trial period of four years.

From an African lens and as we listen to the voices of smallholder farmers and most vulnerable communities, here are key elements worth taking into account at COP28 for the loss and damage fund:

  1. Speed and urgent action: Setting up this fund is not only a moral imperative but a critical step in addressing the severe, and in many cases irreversible, consequences of climate change. In the past, the various funds created to support the climate agenda took years to become operational, while the impacts of climate change continued to become more ferocious and more frequent and visible. For Instance, The Adaptation Fund was created by COP7 in 2001, but became operational in 2007.  So far, it has only disbursed around US$1 billion. As for the Green Climate Fund, after its establishment, some UN agencies took more than two to three years just to get accredited and many African Countries and Institutions still struggle to access the Fund.  We applaud the setup of the Loss and Damage Fund at the World Bank hope that it will be adequately capitalized, agile accessible and timely enough to be of value to those that need it.
  1. Sufficient funding: It is far more expensive to deal with losses and damages than to invest in climate change adaptation or mitigation – not only in monetary terms, but also when we consider the physical and emotional toll of climate impacts on most vulnerable communities, as they watch their fragile asset base being washed away or wiped out. Although governments gathered in Paris in 2015 pledged US$100 billion per year for climate finance, the resources of all climate funds together – including the environmental funds (Green Climate Fund, Global Environmental Fund, and Adaptation Fund) are still well below US$20 billion per year.  Therefore, much greater efforts are urgently needed to make good on previous commitments and come up with the resources necessary to support affected regions in rebuilding their infrastructure, restoring ecosystems, adapting to a changing climate, and addressing losses and damages. And if capacities to generate proposals for funding are weak, let the countries’ capacities be supported. While the negotiations are suggesting developing countries to also contribute into the lost and damage fund like the developed countries, let’s note that several African countries are already in debt distress partially induced by climate impacts which they are historically responsible. Hence, from an African lens, at least most African LDC countries, countries under debt distress Small Island Developing States should not be contributing to this fund.
  1. Strong, robust – but also flexible – mechanisms for compensation:  The African continent is committed to the establishment of a mechanism to compensate communities and nations for losses that are unavoidable, despite adaptation and preparedness efforts. This will require the fund to operate based on clear, simple criteria, transparency, fairness, and accountability. Countries should, similar to other World Bank instruments have direct access and not go through intermediaries to access the fund.
  1. Integrated climate risk management (risk preparedness, risk reduction, and risk transfer): To minimize losses and damages and use of the fund, it is important that the Fund allocates a significant portion of its resources to the most vulnerable countries for integrated climate risk management, which combines risk preparedness, risk reduction, and risk transfer mechanisms. This model is the best way to limit the magnitude of potential loss and damages. In relation to preparedness, the Fund should address the need to strengthen climate information and early warning systems (CIEWS) that provide robust climate data to governments, smallholder farmers, and other relevant stakeholders to enable them to make more informed decisions and adopt effective preventative and adaptive measures to reduce the risks and impacts of climate change and extreme weather events. The Fund should also work with other funds that specifically support risk preparedness as a precondition for accessing compensation. The said climate risk preparedness actions should be combined with climate risk reduction measures aimed at enabling vulnerable farmers to adopt best climate adaptation and mitigation practices using data from strengthened CIEWS help inform farmers’ choices. To make this integration model efficient, climate risk preparedness and reduction should be linked to climate risk transfer (micro and macro agricultural insurance). The Africa Risk Capacity, a Specialized Agency of the African Union established to help African governments improve their capacities to better plan, prepare, and respond to extreme weather events and natural disasters can play a key role.
  1. Support during climate disasters and events: Governments should prioritize support for vulnerable populations, including indigenous communities, women, and marginalized groups, who often bear the brunt of climate-related impacts. It is important to develop contingency plans for all vulnerable areas and communities identified.
  1. Replenishment of the fund: The plans to finance the Loss and Damage Fund should include targets for regular replenishments from countries with high emissions. The fund could also receive resources from partners such as international donors, development agencies, and philanthropic organizations. It should also work closely with other entities that share the Loss and Damage Fund’s vision.
  1. Private sector involvement: The fund should encourage private sector involvement through public private partnerships, climate bonds, climate insurance, and corporate social responsibility initiatives.
  1. Governance and administration: In the current global climate change negotiations, parties are suggesting that the World Bank act as the Fund’s interim host. While we know that this is a temporary solution, our proposal is that the Fund be in Africa, at the African Development Bank with clear guidelines on expediency. 

Furthermore, an independent oversight body that includes UNCCC, representation of donors and receiving countries would ensure transparency agility, accountability and  the desired impact and prevent any conflicts of interest. This body could also perform technical evaluations and validations of the losses and damages and assess the premiums to be paid per country based on clearly defined criteria. Additionally, it is important to ensure proper representation and participation of affected communities, civil society, youth, women, and experts in climate science and adaptation in such a body.

The Loss and Damage Fund should have a robust M&E system to track the effectiveness and impacts of the projects it supports. This should include regular reviews and updates of the Fund’s objectives so as to align them with the evolving climate realities.

Urgent Action and Leadership Critical for Climate Wins

Climate change stands as a threat to the foundations of our global food systems, unrivalled in its scope and impact. Today, soaring temperatures, shifting weather patterns, and extreme weather are adversely affecting our ability to feed ourselves, demanding urgent solutions. 

For many, the urgency is heightened as agriculture is the backbone of their economies. The escalating impacts of climate change are making it increasingly challenging for citizens to produce or afford healthy meals. With each passing year, farmers are finding it difficult to predict growing seasons, with erratic rainfall threatening crop yields and livestock productivity. The effects of climate change further extend to the oceans, where acidification and marine heatwaves are negatively affecting fish stocks. 

Such trends are worrisome for the world economies, and notably for Africa, which already needs to accelerate its food production to meet the needs of its growing population projected to double to two billion by 2050 and may reach four billion in 2100.  The pressure on the continent’s food systems necessitates producers to adapt their practices and technologies, addressing these challenges head-on, and increasing their output through more efficient and sustainable approaches.

However, it is this pressure that puts Africa at the centre of global climate action, with the continent’s leaders now seeing the economic opportunities that can emerge from climate action. Investments in renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, and clean technologies have the potential to drive economic growth, job creation, and innovation, and Africa stands poised to make early gains due to its strategic location and vast natural resources. 

The African Common Position from the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit, which was adopted within the Nairobi Declaration at the recent Africa Climate Summit, recognises such opportunities even as it compels the continent’s political leadership to take action on food systems, placing climate at the centre of its sustainable production practices. This commitment was further exemplified at the 2023 Africa Food Systems Forum in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, where African leaders reiterated their commitment to regenerate, re-purpose and protect their regions against the devastating effects of climate change. In both forums, there was a commitment to addressing the soil acidity challenge through significant investments in cutting-edge technologies. This forward-thinking approach aimed to not only combat the immediate issue of soil acidity but also to proactively invest ahead of the curve in the emerging carbon opportunity. Moreover, leaders actively sought to expedite access to practical knowledge for farmers, recognizing the vital role of timely information in sustainable agriculture. 

This agenda has been elevated by the UAE to define conversations and decision-making at the 28th Climate Change Convention (COP28) later this month. The COP28 Presidential Action Agenda seeks to build on the progress and momentum of recent years with the UN Food Systems Summit, COP26 in the UK, and COP27 in Egypt, and emphasizes the need for all countries to better integrate their food systems and climate action to deliver for people and the planet. At the core of this agenda, the COP Presidency has put forward the leader-level Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action, where all global leaders would voluntarily commit to incorporating food systems and agriculture into their climate planning and action by 2025. Expedited initiatives in these areas, encompassing production, consumption, processing, transport, storage, and tackling food loss and waste are all critical for accelerating global climate goals and ensuring the food security, resilience, and livelihoods of billions of people. Inclusivity also stands out as a key COP28 agenda item, with the participation of women, youth and indigenous communities required at all levels of decision-making. 

In the run-up to COP28, African countries are encouraged to lead the transformation from their unique contexts and draw inspiration from countries that have already made major strides including Norway and the UAE. Norway’s high electric vehicle adoption rates serve as a testament to the effectiveness of supportive leadership and political will in transformation. This is as the UAE demonstrates dedication to combating climate change by aligning its national goals with the Paris Agreement. Increasing its carbon reduction target to 40% by 2030, up from 31%, marks a substantial move towards sustainability.  

Innovative financing solutions are being explored to facilitate investments in priority climate actions, especially through the Green Climate Fund, aimed at securing essential resources for critical climate initiatives. However, we have fallen short on the second replenishment of the Fund, but there is still time to recover by honouring loss and damage pledges, adaptation finance pledges, and incentivizing private investments. 

Finally, it is important to restate that the success of the global climate agenda depends on leadership. The COP28 Presidency during the Pre-COP meetings in Abu Dhabi laid out its commitment to addressing the decarbonization challenge, openly addressing what many referred to as the ‘elephant in the room’.  We must be willing to have difficult conversations to move forward on important issues and work together to rise above climate change and secure a sustainable future for all.

Harnessing the momentum from COP28 and past commitments, we must now overcome the dilemma of choosing between climate action and development, enabling the simultaneous pursuit of both. We must also break the cycle of delays and dangerous procrastination. Urgency is critical as risks continue to escalate, leaving us with no time for disunity, and requiring us to prioritize collaboration over self-interest and defensiveness. The time for action is now; let us leverage the convening power of COP28 to turbocharge action and make a difference for future generations. Let’s move forward together on the “Clean Industrial Revolution” to secure the future of humanity and our planet.

Dr. Kalibata is President of AGRA, a member of the COP28 Advisory Committee, and served as Special Envoy for the 2021 Food Systems Summit

Building Africa’s Agricultural Resilience in the Face of Climate Change

Africa’s food systems hold global significance, impacting both worldwide food security and climate resilience. However, ensuring food resilience in Africa presents undeniable challenges.

The connection between climate resilience and food systems becomes evident as climate change poses threats to agri-food systems , resulting in crop failures, increased food prices, loss in job opportunities and heightened food and nutrition insecurity.

Within this complex scenario, a critical issue emerges—the climate finance gap, specifically addressing challenges faced by smallholder farmers in Africa.

Despite Africa contributing less than 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions, its agricultural sector grapples with disproportionate challenges, worsened by droughts, floods, heatwaves, pests and diseases .

The Africa Food Systems Forum 2023 highlighted the severity, with smallholder farmers dealing with unprecedented temperatures. Alarmingly, only 35 cents of every climate finance dollar reaches these farmers, leaving them on the frontline of climate change impact.

Urgent intervention is essential, not only to address the immediate needs of over 33 million smallholder farmers but also to establish a sustainable model ensuring resilience amidst climate uncertainties. Bridging the climate finance gap for these farmers is not just a financial imperative but a moral one, necessitating a concerted effort to empower those pivotal to our collective food security and environmental stability.

Shaping Africa’s Climate Agenda at COP28

The cornerstone of sustainable climate action lies in adapting and building resilience, encompassing the active involvement of communities, ecosystems, and infrastructure but also addressing losses and damages caused by recurrent climate events.

This requires strengthening the adaptive capacity of African farmers, fortifying food supply chains, implementing inclusive policies, and developing crucial infrastructure.

Recognizing the inefficiency in resource deployment, where Africa receives $USD30 billion in annual climate finance flow which is a mere 11 per cent of the required annual amount, underscores the urgent need for effective action. Given their vulnerability, farmers require inclusion and empowerment for resilience building to advance mitigation , adaptation, loss and damage.

Fundamentally, it becomes imperative to acknowledge Africa’s unique circumstances on the global stage within the broader context of climate negotiations. Africa’s heightened vulnerability, distinct sensitivities, and lower capacity to cope necessitate urgent and inclusive action.

This acknowledgment lays the groundwork for a more equitable and effective approach in addressing climate change. To achieve the ambitious objectives outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement, the global community must actively recognize and address the distinctive challenges that Africa’s food systems encounter.

Shaping a Sustainable Future: Advocacy, Collaboration and Finance
The Africa Food Systems Forum 2023 underscored the complex connection between agriculture, nutrition, infrastructure climate change, and resilience, providing guidance on how best to steer the continent towards a transformative strategy for food systems.

Addressing the climate crisis requires a restructuring of financial architecture to encourage climate investments. Giving special attention to the agriculture sector, which bears the greatest impact, it is crucial to renew commitments to green financing initiatives. Despite Africa receiving $30 billion annually, only a small fraction of its requirements, global leaders must uphold the commitment to furnish $100 billion in yearly climate finance to developing countries.

As the international community readies for COP28, it is time for collective action to mold a more robust and sustainable future, drawing global attention to these crucial issues.

Shared advocacy and collaboration emerge as fundamental principles, with a particular emphasis on ensuring active inclusion for African countries. Recognizing the challenges faced by these nations in addressing climate change, a collective effort that transcends geographical and economic boundaries is imperative.

This approach involves amplifying the voices of African countries, acknowledging their unique circumstances, and integrating their perspectives into the global climate dialogue.

Collaboration extends beyond traditional state actors to include non-state entities, civil society, and the private sector, recognizing their pivotal roles in driving sustainable solutions. Establishing platforms for knowledge exchange, facilitating technology transfer, and providing adequate financial support are vital components of inclusive collaboration.

The COP28 can serve as a catalyst for meaningful progress, ensuring that the concerns and contributions of African countries take center stage in the global climate action agenda.

The writer Amath Pathe Sene is Managing Director for the Africa Food Systems Forum


Stop losing and wasting food for a Sustainable Planet, People and Climate

Authors: Jeremiah Rogito, Tilahun Amede, and Assan Ngombe 

Food loss and waste has emerged as a global crisis that demands our immediate attention. Each year, approximately one-third of the world’s food production is lost or goes to waste, resulting in staggering economic losses estimated at $1 trillion. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, Sub-Saharan Africa faces a dire situation with a staggering 37% rate of food loss and waste. This wastage not only deprives farmers of their deserved economic returns but also squanders precious resources such as water, seeds, fertilizers, energy, and land. Moreover, food loss and waste contribute significantly to deforestation, species extinction, and an astonishing 8-10% of annual greenhouse gas emissions. 

Amid discussions about the urgent need to increase food production to feed a growing global population expected to reach nearly 10 billion by 2050, we must not overlook the equally crucial task of reducing food loss and waste. Addressing this challenge could be a transformative action that not only helps us feed more people using the same agricultural land but also drastically reduces our environmental footprint.

Food insecurity remains a pressing concern in Africa, where an estimated 100 million people grappled with catastrophic food insecurity in 2020. Factors such as conflicts, climate change-induced crop failures, economic shocks, and soaring food prices have exacerbated this crisis. 

Shifting from extractive to regenerative and sustainable models of food production can help reduce the expansion of agricultural lands into fragile ecosystems, minimize water and energy waste, and create sustainable jobs for youth, women, and all. 

Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 aims to halve global food waste by 2030. The African Union Commission postharvest management strategy of August 2018 in line with the 2014 Malabo declaration targeted to reduce Post harvest losses by 50% by the year 2025 in African Union (AU) Member States. One significant challenge towards reducing food loss and waste is the lack of accurate, up-to-date data, which hampers effective solutions. The UN Food Systems Summit in 2021 through the UN Secretary General`s Envoy on Food Systems, Dr. Agnes Kalibata, called for accelerated action across the world. To comprehensively tackle food loss and waste, policy interventions and public-private partnerships tailored to local contexts are essential. With a growing global population and limited job opportunities, sustainable farming in food systems offer a promising avenue to address the complex issues of food loss and waste. 

The Food and Land Use Coalition growing better report highlighted reducing food loss and waste as one of the 10 critical transitions to a sustainable food and land use system. In Kenya, The Government, Food and Land Use Coalition and its partners (Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition- GAIN, AGRA, World Resources Institute Africa, among others) are developing the Kenya Food Systems and Land Use System Action Plan 2024-2030. The plan has identified reducing food loss and waste as one of the 5 major pathways to food system transformation. 

The reducing food loss and waste plan has three major components. First, it involves the development of a comprehensive protocol to accurately report food loss and waste while pinpointing its sources. Second, it aims to reform and align existing food safety laws and regulations at both national and county levels, adapting them to address evolving challenges and addressing behaviour change in food consumption patterns. Lastly, the plan focuses on enhancing market infrastructure, incorporating facilities like cold storage and processing units, to boost the efficiency of agricultural produce marketing.

It is imperative to recognize the urgency of reducing food loss and waste for a sustainable future. Sustainable farming in our food systems is not only an environmental imperative but also an economic opportunity, a means to alleviate food insecurity, and a pathway toward a more resilient and equitable world. By working together at local, national, and global levels, we can create a future where food is cherished, resources are conserved, and hunger is eradicated. There is need for sustained effort to address food loss and waste.

Harnessing Africa’s Youth Population for Inclusive Growth

Africa stands at a critical juncture in its history, with a rapidly growing youth population that presents both challenges and opportunities. As the continent grapples with pressing issues such as food security and economic development, it is crucial to harness the potential of this demographic dividend to achieve inclusive growth. By empowering Africa’s youth and creating an enabling environment, we can transform the continent’s food systems and unlock its economic potential.

Africa’s food systems face multifaceted challenges, including limited access to modern agricultural practices, inadequate infrastructure, and a lack of inclusive policies. However, within these challenges lie tremendous opportunities that can be achieved through investments in education, vocational training, and entrepreneurship programs tailored to the agricultural sector. By equipping young people with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in agribusiness, they can become agents of change and innovation. Governments in collaboration with the private sector organisations and civil society, can enhance the provision of comprehensive as well as accessible education as well as training programmes that align with the needs of the labour market. By incorporating practical skills and modern agricultural techniques into the curriculum, young people can develop an appreciation of farming sustainably, market linkages, and value chain management.

Ensuring equitable access to resources is critical for inclusive growth. Financial institutions and governments should establish mechanisms that provide affordable credit and access to land for young farmers. Many young Africans face significant challenges in accessing capital due to limited collateral and financial literacy. To address this, innovative financing models, such as microfinance and blended finance initiatives, can be employed to provide young farmers with the necessary capital to start and scale their agricultural enterprises.

Furthermore, it is essential to promote sustainable agricultural practices through policies that incentivise youth-led initiatives in conservation, organic farming, and climate-smart agriculture. By incorporating environmental considerations into policy frameworks, governments can encourage young farmers to adopt sustainable practices that protect natural resources, enhance resilience to climate change, and contribute to the overall well-being of communities.

In addition to inclusive policies, participatory governance is crucial for youth engagement. Governments should actively involve young people in decision-making processes, providing platforms for their voices to be heard. Youth advisory boards, consultative forums, and mentorship programmes can facilitate dialogue between policymakers and young agripreneurs, ensuring that policies are designed and implemented in a manner that reflects their aspirations and needs.

Harnessing Africa’s youth dividend requires collaboration between governments, civil society, private sector entities, and international organisations. These stakeholders can join forces to provide mentorship, capacity-building programmes, and investment opportunities for young agripreneurs. Public-private partnerships can promote the transfer of knowledge, technology, and expertise, fostering innovation and entrepreneurship in the agricultural sector. By leveraging the strengths and resources of various actors, comprehensive support systems can be established to empower young farmers and agripreneurs.

International organisations and donor agencies also play a crucial role in supporting youth-led initiatives. By providing funding, technical assistance, and networking opportunities, they can facilitate access to resources and markets for young agripreneurs. Collaboration between African countries and international partners can also foster knowledge exchange and innovation, promoting the adoption of modern technologies and best practices across the continent.

AGRA actively contributes to harnessing the potential of Africa’s youth for inclusive growth. We invest in education and training programmes tailored to the agricultural sector, equipping young people with the necessary skills for agribusiness success. Additionally, we advocate for affordable credit and land reform policies to ensure young farmers have access to resources. By embracing digital technologies, we empower young agripreneurs to overcome barriers. AGRA’s involvement in shaping inclusive policies and fostering partnerships creates an enabling environment for youth engagement, transforming Africa’s food systems and unlocking economic potential.

One such initiative through which AGRA supports young agripreneurs is the Generation Africa programme. This AGRA led youth partnership initative seeks to strengthen the ecosystem for youth entrpreneurs in the agri-food sector across the cotinent, and allows them to unlock this untapped potential. The programme also  provides a platform for young entrepreneurs in the agricultural sector to showcase their innovative ideas and businesses through two competitions named the GoGettaz Agripreneur Prize and the Pitch Agrihack.  Through the Generation Africa programme, youths are offered mentorship, funding opportunities, and access to networks, enabling them to further develop their ventures and contribute to sustainable agricultural development in Africa.

The programme strengthens the ecosystem that supports youth entrepreneurs in different countries by catalyzing stakeholders (government, private sector, development partners) action and strengthening youth flagship programmes through the Youth Ecosystem Development Framework (YEDF) assessments and stakeholder engagements. By connecting young agripreneurs with resources and support, AGRA, is empowering the next generation of agricultural leaders, driving economic growth, and creating a more inclusive and sustainable future for Africa.

Africa’s youth population holds immense potential to drive inclusive growth and transform the continent’s food systems. By investing in their education, facilitating access to resources, implementing inclusive policies, and fostering partnerships, Africa can empower its young population to become the driving force behind agricultural innovation and economic development. Through such efforts, Africa can secure its food future, create sustainable livelihoods, and unlock the full potential of its youth demographic dividend. It is time to embrace the power of Africa’s youth and work together towards a prosperous and inclusive future. By investing in the potential of its young people, Africa can lay the foundation for a flourishing continent that benefits all its inhabitants.

By Dickson Naftali, Head, Generation Africa, AGRA


Fight against climate change calls for significant collaboration

By Hon. Soipan Tuya and Dr. Agnes Kalibata 

In line with global trends, Kenya has seen a significant temperature increase of 0.3°C to 0.6°C per decade, impacting key sectors like agriculture and water resources. This rapid warming trend was a major focus at the inaugural Africa Climate Summit (ACS23) in Nairobi last month; which among others, highlighted the link between climate change, regional food systems and economic transformation. The ACS23 emphasized the consequences of inaction on food security and economic sovereignty, rallying Africa’s unified climate agenda ahead of the 28th UN climate change conference (COP28) in the UAE. 

Concurrently, the 2023 Africa Food Systems Forum (AFS Forum 23) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, stressed the urgent need for climate-responsive solutions by African governments to address the continent’s food system challenges. Kenya’s President, Dr. William Ruto, has since come through on his promise to explore more green and environmental friendly fertilizers alongside a 10-year initiative to grow 15 billion trees by 2032, raising Kenya’s tree cover to 30%, enhancing carbon sequestration, restoring 5.1 million hectares of deforested areas, and benefiting households as 30% of these trees will be fruit, nut, and fodder species. 

President Ruto has also banned single-use plastic bags and initiated trials for biodegradable tubing bags in line with a United Nations resolution from UNEA 5.2. Meanwhile, Kenya is at the forefront of climate change efforts in Africa, with the Climate Change Act of 2016, and recent amendments to enhance its carbon market regime, driving its responses. The government is also actively implementing the third cycle of the National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP III) to promote low-carbon, climate-resilient development. 

Yet even as we celebrate these great interventions, we must recognize that climate change is a complex issue that no single country can solve independently; a collaborative approach involving partnerships across national governments, the private sector and the international community is required for rapid transformation. 

We are glad to report that African leaders are focusing their development strategies on sustainable solutions at both the national and continental levels. The Africa Environment Action Plan, the Africa Clean Energy Corridor, and the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative all indicate the continent’s strategic commitment to addressing the climate crisis. The actions proposed in these initiatives were restated in the Nairobi Declaration, which summed up the outcomes of the ACS23. Africa’s common position on food systems will benefit from cross-sectional collaboration to ensure resource efficiency and high-impact transformation.

The Declaration comprises 23 commitments, primarily addressing policy areas related to investment attraction, economic development (with a focus on youth empowerment), enhanced continental cooperation, increased renewable energy financing, support for small-scale farmers, and the expedited implementation of the African Union Climate Change and Resilient Development Strategy and Action Plan (2022-2032). Notably, the Declaration emphasizes the need for global collaboration to secure adequate capital for both development and climate initiatives, echoing the principles of the Paris Pact for People and the Planet, which aims to ensure that no country must choose between its development goals, climate action and the basic human right to feed people.

The time is now for environmental, energy and food systems experts to resolutely come together to help the continent fight hunger, land degradation and ensure economic prosperity,

Hence, Africa is capitalizing on the momentum of ACS23 and AFS Forum 23 to prioritize its climate discussions and facilitate decision-making areas most critical to Africa on the global front. This was evident at the recent UN General Assembly (UNGA) where Africa’s key concerns, such as transitioning to a low-carbon economy and improving living standards, building resilience to climate shocks, especially for rain-fed agricultural nations, were a common theme in speeches and discussions. Coming off the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, which exposed vulnerabilities, there is a strong focus on fast tracking climate action and development, as emphasized by Africa’s delegation at UNGA. 

Our countries are up against a huge task: the need to transform food systems to feed people, to rehabilitate and safeguard the environment and to ensure resilience to shocks caused by the ongoing climate change. There is no doubt that African leaders are more committed than ever before to build on the lessons of the recent crisis that our continent has faced to deliver stronger resilience for people, the environment, and our economies. Certainly, not an easy undertaking which will require stronger collaboration. 

AGRA has developed a suit of transferable assets in technology, system strengthening partnerships and models that can benefit women, youth, and small holder farmers in Kenya and across the continent. We are enthusiastic about collaborating with the Kenya government, like minded institutions and private sector to unlock potential here in Kenya and across the continent. 

With a shared vision and united mission leveraging stronger collaboration across sectors and countries, we’re confident of paving the way for growth, prosperity, and lasting change in this diverse country.

Hon. Tuya is the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Forestry, Kenya; Dr Kalibata is the President of AGRA

How the e-granary is helping improve the livelihoods of farmers in Kenya

Africa has an estimated 33 million smallholder farms.

Despite their small operational scale, the smallholder farmers, who grow staple crops such as maize, rice, wheat, cassava and sorghum, contribute up to 70 per cent of the continent’s food supply.

Additionally, smallholder farmers produce around a third of the world’s food, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations.

However, these farmers face many challenges, including access to finance and quality inputs, climate change, lack of proper storage facilities, and market access.

To help them address these challenges, the Eastern Africa Farmers Federation (EAFF) deployed an integrated digital farmer services platform, e-granary, to improve the living standards of smallholder farmers in Kenya through increased incomes and financial inclusion.

To access the platform, farmers must register using their phone numbers, which also double as their mobile wallets.

The farmers receive payment on produce delivery to warehouses (on credit) for 100 per cent (assuming a low grade). The grain is graded, and the batch is tagged for traceability. Thereafter, the revised grade is communicated to the farmers.

Prices increase after the harvest, and credit is based on the anticipated price hike, the new grade and credit score.

E-granary sells the grain to the output trader and pays the farmers (net of loans, interest charges and warehouse fees).

Speaking on the sidelines of the AGRF Summit 2023, EAFF Board Member Mr. Philip Kiriro noted that they have worked towards ensuring that farmers are organised into cooperatives or business clusters to manage the value chains and the products they deal with.

“Our approach is slightly different because we have said, as small farmers, if you look at the markets, markets have owners, even the markets in our countries, in our capitals that are agricultural markets, they have owners, it’s very difficult for farmers to get onto that market and do business,” he said, adding, “So we said, why don’t we  establish our business line through value chains, by organising ourselves and agreeing that we need to collectively make sure that we dominate one important segment of agri-food business and that is aggregation.” 

This has been advantageous to farmers, who have also received support from the private sector.  For example, partnering with off-takers has ensured the farmers’ produce has a ready market.

Farmers have also gained support from suppliers of farm inputs, where the lobby and specific groups agree on the method used to supply fertilisers and seeds to save money, ensure quality input and see to it that the products reach the farms on time.

E-granary has also assisted farmers in accessing finance through tailor-made products and addressed risks that farmers face by having discussions with insurance companies.

“For example, Vision Fund has microfinance, and we worked with them in Kenya. It got to a point where they started reducing the interest specifically for farmers out of the money they give out because they saw the larger benefits that emanate from us aggregating farmers. They can support farmers in borrowing for other activities like value addition, apart from just borrowing for crop production,” said Mr. Kiriro.

Goodwill from the government is also crucial in any sector, and e-granary has allowed farmers to get government support for their projects.

“In the case of Kenya, we have gone to counties like Nakuru. We have been to counties in Western and Eastern Kenya to discuss how we can partner with county governments, now that agriculture is devolved to ensure that we energise agribusiness,” said Mr Kiriro.

Those county governments have been receptive to e-granary as they have already started talking about aggregation centres.

“That means they have taken our vision where you aggregate produce and seek markets and manage, you know, even post-harvest losses that we have been talking about for years. Once you aggregate, even as farmers, you can see the size of the aggregation or the bulk and you say, ‘I think with this one we can start value addition, we can seek a private sector partner to  process this produce,’” he said.

Aggregating produce has significant benefits in agribusiness. For instance, when maize farmers aggregate their produce, they can collectively negotiate for better business and the buyers do not have to go around looking for the maize. This translates to a lot of savings in terms of overheads.

A lot went into making the e-granary initiative a success, including support from development partners like AGRA. “If you look at the engagement we have had, the support mainly comes from development partners. Like the e-granary process of Kenya was initially supported by AGRA, while in Rwanda and Uganda, we have been supported by the World Bank,” Mr. Kiriro said.

With support from AGRA’s Financial Inclusion for Smallholder Farmers in Africa (FISFAP) programme, the e-granary worked with farmers in Meru cooperatives, Nakuru, Trans Nzoia, Bomet, and Narok.

“Out of that, we generated a platform that has membership, where farmers say they are part of the e-granary platform, and with that platform, now we can reach them through information extension, consulting, digital, innovation, issues on agronomical challenges, issues around markets,” he said.

Farmers’ forums need to be well organised to ensure their success. The farmers also need proper training and guidance from a secretariat that understands them. To thrive in agribusiness, they also have to successfully go through the aggregating process, for access to market, and partner with off-takers. With this, smallholder farmers will drive food systems transformation across the world.

From Dialogues to Clear Action Plans: Kenya’s Path to Sustainable Food Systems – The 2024-2030 Kenya Food Systems and Land Use Action Plan

Kenya, like many nations across the globe, faces a critical challenge: transforming its food systems to secure a brighter future for its people, nature, and the climate. The Food and Land Use Coalition (FOLU) is at the forefront of this transformation, advocating for science-based solutions and fostering a shared understanding of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. Kenya’s food systems currently are unsustainable, contributing to national carbon emissions, biodiversity loss, and widespread hunger and malnutrition, particularly among women. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the fragility of these systems and underscored the urgency of change. Inclusivity and equity must be at the heart of any food systems transformation.

Devolution: A Catalyst for Localized Solutions in a Multistakeholder Approach 

One of Kenya’s strengths in addressing these issues lies in its devolved governance structure. Devolution empowers local authorities to tailor solutions to the unique challenges faced by various regions. Recognizing this potential, we must integrate a context-specific approach into our efforts, embracing inclusivity and innovation as vital enablers of food system transformation. In this journey, innovation is not just a tool but a prerequisite for success. To effectively address the multifaceted challenges within Kenya’s food systems, it’s essential to promote national multistakeholder transformations while collaborating at regional and global levels. This approach fosters collective action and cooperation, essential in tackling issues that transcend borders.

FOLU Kenya’s Role

In response to these challenges, FOLU Kenya is working closely with the Kenyan government, collaborating with the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development and allied ministries. The goal is to develop the Kenya Food Systems and Land Use Action Plan 2024-2030. This document will provide a roadmap for players within the food and land use sectors, guiding them towards sustainability and enhanced coordination.

Central to this initiative are the workshops organized by FOLU Kenya secretariat, comprised of AGRA, GAIN, and WRI Africa. These workshops aimed to engage a wide range of stakeholders in the development of the Kenya Food Systems and Land Use Action Plan. A team of experts, representing diverse institutions developed oversaw the development of the plan’s zero draft. Additionally, a series of consultative meetings with stakeholders from various sectors were organized to provide valuable input into the process. The workshops were key to build a consensus on Challenges and Recommendations. Stakeholders came together to identify and agree upon the most pressing challenges faced by Kenya’s food systems and proposed actionable recommendations.

The workshops served as a platform for Food Systems and Land Use stakeholders in Kenya, encompassing agriculture, SMEs, policy makers, water management, climate resilience, natural resource management, sustainable consumption, and healthy diets, among others. Expert consultants facilitated these sessions, ensuring that the process was robust and inclusive. The consultations involved a series of workshops with participants drawn from all the 47 counties through the various regional economic blocks in Kenya.

The journey towards transforming Kenya’s food systems and land use practices is a complex but essential one. Through dialogue, collaboration, innovation, clear action plans, monitoring and coordination mechanisms, we can pave the way for a sustainable future. The Kenya Food Systems and Land Use Action Plan 2024-2030 represents a pivotal step in this journey, offering a clear roadmap towards a better, more equitable, and environmentally responsible food system. Together, we can make it a reality.

Figure 2: Eng Laban Kiplagat Director for Land and Environment in the Ministry of Agriculture, Kibibi Abdalla CEC for Agriculture and Blue Economy speaking at the Coast region consultations and the Healthy diets workstream provide their input to the plan.

Figure 3: A section of participants pose for a photo at the Mt Kenya and Aberdare region consultative workshop in Nanyuki. 

Figure 4: A section of participants pose for a photo at the North Rift Economic Block consultative workshop in Eldoret. 

Figure 5: Willy Toa-MOA and John Macharia- Country Manager Kenya addressing participants during the Nanyuki and Machakos Consultative meetings respectively.