AGRA

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.

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


Source: https://www.dailyagricnews.com

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


Source: https://businesstimes.co.ke

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

Experts Reiterate the Need to Address Food Loss and Waste for a Sustainable Food and Land Use System in Kenya

By Jeremiah Rogito, Program Officer, FOLU, AGRA

The control of food loss and waste is critical in addressing many of Africa’s food shortage issues, which have left over 200 million people suffering from hunger and malnutrition. This is according to food system experts, who met in a workshop last month to validate a study on the contextual issues surrounding food loss and waste (FLW) in Kenya. The workshop was organized by the World Resource Institute (WRI) through the Food and Land Use (FOLU) coalition. 

The participants recognized that at least 37% of the food produced in sub-Saharan Africa is either lost or wasted, making FLW an integral agenda in the ongoing conversation on food systems transformation. It was agreed that FLW impacts food security and nutrition, the earnings of food producers and traders, and the sustainability of food systems through the wastage of scarce natural resources and farming inputs.

Yet despite this relevance, the participants noted the inadequacy of FLW data and knowledge (critical points of loss, magnitude, and underlying causes and drivers) in driving policy development, decision-making processes, and priority actions towards tackling the problem. They said that available estimates are based on an FAO study carried out in 2011, whose outcome does not fully correspond to newer definitions, metrics, measurement protocols and standards. 

“With the various challenges around production, including climate change, high cost of inputs, degraded soils, and failed rains, among others, we cannot afford to lose or waste any food. It is imperative that models that significantly reduce food loss and waste in Kenya be piloted and upscaled,” said John Macharia, AGRA’s Kenya Country Manager. 

A picture of fruit and vegetable waste at a local market in Kenya

For rapid action, Dr Robert Mbeche, who led the study under validation, reiterated the need to develop FLW as a critical food system indicator, eliminating the existing bottlenecks to understanding the causes, extent, and priorities for reducing FLW. 

“Despite being a priority issue under the Sustainable Development Agenda of 2030, FLW has not received much attention compared to other food system indicators such as food availability and food safety,” he said.

He added that while there is emerging but growing literature on FLW in Kenya, most studies do not employ standard methodologies that increase the accuracy and comparability of the results. 

“These studies tend to analyse FLW at specific stages of the value chain – which makes it difficult to determine the critical points of loss. Furthermore, few studies have been undertaken at retail or consumption nodes making estimation of food waste difficult. The assessments of physical losses are more common compared to quality or nutritional losses,” he said. 

On the other hand, Dr. Mbeche was pleased to note that some studies have documented important innovations that could potentially minimize FLW, in addition, to attempts to assess the cost effectiveness and impacts of various FLW innovations.

A section of participants in a group photo during the FLW workshop at the Movenpick Hotel, in Kenya’s Capital, Nairobi.

Other speakers emphasized the need to develop consistent and targeted measures to address data gaps on FLW. The WRI and FOLU partners are working on such a protocol for adequate FLW measurement and response. A draft of this protocol was presented at the workshop, as evidence of FOLU’s prioritizaton of FLW among its four critical transitions in Kenya, which also include: Healthy diets; Productive and Regenerative Agriculture, and Protecting and Restoring Nature for a Sustainable Food and Land Use System. 

Meanwhile, Dr Susan Chomba, WRI’s Director of Vital Landscapes, highlighted the importance of partnerships in addressing food loss and waste. She said: “to achieve food system transformation, we cannot do it alone, there is need for us to collaborate and work together to achieve this, hence the need for the Food and Land Use Coalition.”

Let’s mentor the youth to tap into Africa’s agro-value chain

The 40 per cent of Africa’s population comprising young people in the 18-35 age bracket holds the key to the continent’s food security and economic progress.

Their potential, however, needs to be harnessed through innovative technologies. Unfortunately, the reality is that many youths are jobless, with limited opportunities to transform their lives. One area where we are yet to fully exploit the potential of youth is agriculture. 

We should get our youth intricately involved in the food value chain and completely revamp the current agricultural model to make it more youth-inclusive.

We need to debunk retrogressive stereotypes that dissuade the younger generation from embracing agriculture as a dignified career option. 

For far too long, young people have perceived agriculture as a retirement pastime. Such stereotypes not only stifle growth and innovation in the agri-food sector but also dim the overall perception of agriculture.

The youth must shun the mindset that agriculture is a boring venture. One of the ways through which the youth can be engaged in transforming the agri-food space is through innovation.

The disruptive impact of technology is evident in virtually every sector and facet of life. While agriculture initially lagged in embracing innovative technologies, it has not been immune to the disruption.

Indeed, some of the most radical innovations have been around food systems. From food security apps to weather and calorie apps, technology has mainstreamed the agri-value chain while neutralising entrenched stereotypes.

Through technology, farmers can now access markets directly, influence prices and learn better crop and animal husbandry practices. On the same platforms, they can showcase their produce, processes, and other activities along the agri-value chain.

Mentoring next generation

We must begin to envision the role of the youth in shaping the future of agriculture by mentoring the next generation of agripreneurs.

The emerging, tech-driven agri-space is gender and age neutral and devoid of biases that fuel the exclusion of youth, women and other disadvantaged groups. 

In addition, the quest for a new breed of agripreneurs and innovators has spawned many initiatives that seek to stimulate creativity in pursuit of opportunities in the trillion-dollar Africa agro-value chain.

One such initiative is the GoGettaz Agripreneur Prize and the Pitch AgriHack competition, whose aim is to showcase youth’s ground-breaking solutions to Africa’s food security challenges.

The disruption that tech and youth are injecting is the Midas touch the industry needs to transition to the next level. Crucially, youth have a higher risk appetite, which is needed to overcome challenges facing the industry.

Individually and collectively, this youthful effect will affect what we know, drive trends that influence what and how we eat, what we farm, where we farm, and generally influence what the market will produce and consume in future.

Ms Namayi is the GoGettaz Lead – Generation Africa at AGRA; anamayi@agra.org 

Originally posted on: https://nation.africa/kenya

The ‘new normal’ in food systems is anchored on gender equality

The world quickly embraced a ‘new normal’ in response to the Covid-19 pandemic that swept the globe in 2020, dramatically upending life as we knew it. That should inspire a shift to a new way of growing food by decisively tackling gender inequality that pervades the agricultural system globally.

For far too long, women have been consigned to playing second fiddle in the global food system. Inspired by the immortal dream of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr., who envisioned a ‘Promised Land’ where equality for all reigned, I stand with the millions of women marginalised by gender inequality even as they cling to unfulfilled international commitments on mainstreaming gender parity as a way of achieving food security.

We must be bold as to disrupt the status quo that eternally condemns women to marginalisation, to unshackle them from the vicious cycle of poverty and vulnerability. The new normal of agriculture must deliver on gender equality, equity and empowerment.

Decent meal

In striving to bring the millions of women in Africa toiling on land they do not own, growing crops they cannot sell, working long hours of unpaid labour and being considered uncreditworthy by lenders to the decision-making table, we must first recognise their potential to transform agriculture.

Ahead of the 2021 UN Food Summit, I was part of a worldwide listening tour. Many women narrated the inequality they experience, the inability to cook a decent meal for their children, the number of times they had to hold back their needs and pass the plate on to a member of the family (You see, for us women, that is honour). How can this be ingrained in the food-producing systems?

They pleaded to be treated and valued as equal and productive members of communities; and for an end to the historical injustices they have faced. They also asked governments to fix laws and policies that denied them equal treatment and for financial solutions to enable them to access much-needed credit. They demanded fair and equitable wages—which can only be realised through a cultural shift driven by behaviour change.

Pain areas

We have had way many conversations around these pain areas and the changes required to attain the dream of equality. When shall we be bold enough to act? Sixty per cent of the agricultural workforce are women.

I see a world where women are not just labourers but producers on farms they own alongside their husbands. I see leaders, decision-makers and innovators. I also see a world where, because of empowerment, women have better access to factors of production.

As such, they can produce twice as much or more than they do, and where the enhanced output translates into affordable and accessible food, nutritious diets and improvement in standards of living for all.

For financial institutions, I see more customers, bigger savings and growing loan books. Let financial institutions change their attitude and create products for women, see their potential and teach them financial literacy to empower and grow them. For every man there is a woman; why is a significant part of the other half not visible to you, in this world of innovation, creativity you can’t find a product to unlock this clientele?

For governments, I see a wealthier and broader tax base. Time is night for states to be deliberate about affirmative action, passing laws and policies that support women’s empowerment in food systems. There is a lot of evidence of where countries that have been so bold have reaped huge benefits from it.

For the media, it is time to highlight the inequality and tell us inspiring stories of how and where equality is working, to inform and drive the much-needed behaviour change.

Policymakers

Now is the time for a cultural reorganisation to discard negative practices. Civil society has a crucial role in educating the populace. For intellectuals and policymakers, it is the moment to shepherd conversations and actions toward the end goal of an equitable and progressive society that is empowered and productive and can feed itself.

The benefits of a more resilient food system driven by gender equality are many. However, they will remain a pipe dream if we do not get off the rhetoric and work towards gender equity and address the systemic hurdles hindering our path to the Promised Land.

It is time to act by actualising a new normal, time to champion new thinking and rally individual and collective responsibility to correct the gender inequality in our food systems. We must stay hungry for change until the change we desire becomes a reality.

Dr Kalibata is the president of AGRA. @Agnes_Kalibata

Originally posted on https://nation.africa/

COMESA Ministers Undertake to Promote the Regional Food Balance Sheet Initiative

Protase Echessah, Senior Program Office, Regional Food Trade and Resilience Unit, AGRA

Gregory Chansa, Consultant, TetraTech

Mumbi Gichuri, Coordinator, Food Trade Coalition for Africa, Regional Food Trade and Resilience Unit, AGRA


During the 8th Joint Meeting of the Ministers responsible for Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment from COMESA Member States, the Ministers pledged to fully support the implementation of the COMESA Digital Regional Food Balance Sheet (RFBS) Initiative. Under the theme of this year’s meeting: ”Building Resilience Through Strategic Digital Economic Integration”, the Ministers reviewed regional strategic frameworks and programmes to expand agricultural production and productivity, strengthen regional agri-food data and information systems, enhance resilience, increase access to markets, and trade in safe and high-quality agricultural commodities and products, enhance regional food security, adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change and build resilience.

The Regional Food Balance Sheet initiative (www.rfbsa.com) is a collaborative and multi-stakeholder engagement that includes participation from a range of analytical and technology partners to provide data and forecasts on crop production, cross-border trade, input supply, and data aggregation. The RFBS, launched by AGRA and COMESA at the 2022 AGRF Summit, is leveraging digital and satellite technology to enable more up-to-date monitoring and forecasting of food crop production, pest and disease attack, and other climatic shifts that could potentially impact food availability. It is a web-based tool that leverages machine-learning and advanced analytics to provide timely supply, demand, and price information about staple crops in Sub-Saharan Africa to inform evidence-based decision making by the public and private sector and other stakeholders in the ecosystem. 

The recent shocks from the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia – Ukraine Crisis have further amplified the critical need for timely and reliable information on food availability, given the potential of these shocks to dramatically increase Africa’s food insecurity for millions of people throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Without reliable information about the spatial and temporal dimensions of commodity availability and demand, including production estimates, stocks, trade flows, and market information, it is difficult to understand the implications of these shocks and the policy responses to them. Addressing challenges around information and data are critical to not only increasing intra-African food trade, but to increasing food security on the continent. 

The RFBS, anchored within the COMESA framework, was developed in collaboration with (AGRA), with support from the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and the Rockefeller Foundation (RF).

In a virtual meeting held on Thursday, 24 November 2022, the Ministers pledged to promote and implement initiatives that contribute to reducing post-harvest losses, improve agriculture commodity aggregation and storage, and enhance competitive access to markets and trade in the region and internationally.

“We commit ourselves to enhancing access to production inputs, services and improved technologies including leveraging digital technologies to drive agriculture and livestock production and productivity”.

“We further request the COMESA Secretariat and its specialized institutions and agencies to work in close collaboration with Member States, cooperating partners, private sector, and other stakeholders to drive the implementation of the decisions taken at this virtual meeting” the Ministers stated in a joint declaration at the end of the meeting.

During the Meeting, COMESA Secretary General (SG), Chileshe Kapwepwe and AGRA Vice-President – Policy and State Capability, Dr. Apollos Nwafor, pitched for the support of the RFBS Initiative by COMESA Member States, arguing that the success and long-term sustainability of initiatives such as this depend on commitments from all players, especially governments who have the obligation to provide information/data as a public good. COMESA will anchor the RFBS in the long-term, but it is the Member States who will determine if the initiative survives or not. The Member States must commit to supporting this initiative through the establishment of critical structures at the national and regional levels, and by way of funding. They further argued that the success of the RFBS Initiative at national level will demand overall support to the initiative by government and other national level stakeholders, and inclusion in the national regional planning agenda. 

The SG added that COMESA will continue to deploy skills and efforts in designing policies and instruments to speed up agricultural growth, facilitate trade and investment among its Member States and with the rest of the world. The meeting was also addressed by representatives of other cooperating partners of COMESA including Mr. Joseph Silavwe (European Union Delegation to Zambia and COMESA), and Mr. Patrice Talla (Food and Agriculture Organization).

The meeting affirmed the importance of timely, accurate and reliable data for informed policy decisions, investments in agri-food systems, and natural resources development in a rapidly changing agri-food system and environment.

This meeting was preceded by the 8th Joint Technical Meeting on Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources on 22 -23 November 2022.

The RFBS tool is critical and central to enhancing policy and market predictability – for functional food markets and food systems. This platform will inform data-driven decisions around production support, trade policy, and stock management by governments, business decision-making and investment by the private sector, and food aid by donors or emergency response organizations. Basic data on food production, consumption, trade, stocks and balances are essential to promote not just regional food security, but also long-term inclusive agricultural transformation, regional agricultural trade, and resilient food systems.

Dr. Nwafor: The Green Deal Could Help Address Africa’s Food Security Challenges

The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has brought about new complexities in the global supply of staple food items and inputs like fertilizer, affecting many African countries. 

According to AGRA’s Vice President for Policy and State Capability, Dr. Apollos Nwafor, at least 20 African countries – 12 from north Africa and eight from sub-Saharan Africa – have been thrown into jeopardy due to a sudden break in the flow of wheat, maize, soybean and rice from the black-sea region. 

“Across sub-Saharan Africa, food prices have increased, and the purchasing power of families has taken a deep dive,” said Dr. Nwafor during a panel discussion at the Future of Food and Farming Summit 2022, organized by American political journalism newspaper company, Politico. 

The session, titled ‘Global Food security in times of crises, sought to review the disruptions to Africa’s and the Middle East’s food supply chains as a result of the Russia-Ukraine conflict as well as the role of the European Union in bridging the gaps. 

Other panellists included Carla Montesi, the Director for Green Deal and Digital Agenda, at the European Commission (EU); and Nada El Majdoub, the Executive Vice president for Performance Management at Morocco’s fertilizer giant, OCP.  

Dr. Nwafor noted that because of the conflict, many African families are unable to access healthy diets. 

“Because of the crisis, there has been more focus on the ability to eat instead of the ability to eat nutritiously,” he said. 

For long-term solutions, Dr. Nwafor emphasized the need for a food systems approach, which takes into account the geopolitical environment in driving sustainability in agricultural production. He particularly recognized the relevance of the EU’s Green Deal, a set of initiatives aimed at boosting the efficient use of resources by moving to a clean, circular economy, and stop climate change in addition to reverting biodiversity loss and cut pollution.

“The Green Deal brings a lot to the African continent in driving food security especially in the areas of climate and resilience, agroecology and nutrition, and ensuring that we are keeping Africa’s arable land for the future,” he said. 

He, however, noted that the push for the implementation of the Deal must be implemented in consideration of Africa’s priorities for it to be effective, noting the need to:

  • Consider the fact that the financing architecture between Africa and the EU are parallel, they don’t meet – We need to rethink the financing architecture for the Green Deal to ensure that it is a win-win for the EU and Africa because it holds a lot of promise. 
  • Have a deeper understanding at the political level on what the Green Deal brings to drive economic growth – Food systems is not necessarily a product of economic growth, it is actually the driver of economic growth, we need to make that case much more clearly for Africans to understand whey the green deal is important for economic growth.  
  • Consider the fact that this is a partnership – The old ways of providing aid support need to change from conditionality to partnerships. This is important because these (African) governments have a clear economic and political agenda, and the Green Deal could become a vehicle for driving that, rather than a conditionality for driving certain interests,” he said.