Last week, leaders from Africa and the Americas convened for the first-ever Africa-Americas ministerial summit, which brought together ministers of agriculture; national senior officials in the fields of environment, science and technology; heads of international organizations, and private sector representatives from 40 countries on a common platform to discuss strategies for collaboration in advancing a food system transformation. 

Under the theme “Building Bridges for Cooperation in Agrifood System Transformation”, the leaders arrived at a common position for cooperation in the promotion of sustainable agricultural productivity in confronting hunger and malnutrition. 

The summit came just weeks after the Food and Agriculture Organization released its State of Food Insecurity and Nutrition in the World 2022 report, which showed worsening hunger and malnutrition in Africa, spurred by emerging challenges like the Covid pandemic and climate change and the ongoing financial crisis.

With the Americas facing seemingly similar challenges as Africa, the ministerial summit came at the right time to share the knowledge and expertise that the former are using to stay ahead of their food system transformation goals. This is with regards to building on the momentum of the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit in addressing the shocks and stresses on food systems through a leadership that recognizes the need to deliver results for farmers, agricultural SMEs and other food system stakeholders. 

“We need to harness the opportunities available from the latest science, technology and innovation in food systems, including advancements in adaptive breeding, circular economy, alternative proteins; biology and chemistry,” said Dr. Agnes Kalibata, President at AGRA. 

Dr. Kalibata further provided direction on the action that must be taken to address the worsening effects of climate change.

“We know that our agri-food systems are some of the greatest drivers of climate emissions, when they could be one of its solutions. We need to explore nature positive production models as we look to achieve our goals, finding ways to compensate our farmers and businesses for sequestered carbon and improved agricultural practices,” she said.  

Leaders from the Americas committed to sharing with Africa the strategies they are using to transform their agricultural productivity, to such an extent that the region produces one out of every three tons of food traded in the world.

Manuel Otero, the Director General of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), emphasized the need for collaboration between Africa and the Americas in achieving global food system goals. 

“Africa is very powerful, and we have to remain united because we share many similarities. We must continue to reinforce our ties in strengthening agri-food systems through decisive action in the areas of food, environmental and energy security,” he said. 

For two days, the leaders exchanged their experiences in accelerating agri-food transformation, as they derived a partnership that would quicken the resolution of the emerging food, fertilizer and financial crisis, and climate change.