ACCRA, Ghana: July 12, 2021 – The Food Trade Coalition for Africa (FTCA) held its General Assembly, Private Sector Engagement on the Regional Food Balance Sheet, and a Policy Dialogue on the impact of shocks on food systems, in Accra, Ghana from June 29 – 30, 2021. The General Assembly was opened by Hon. Okyere Baafi, the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, on behalf of Hon. Minister Alan Kyerematen.
following were the key messages from the three engagements:
The Coalition shall intensify engagement with the African Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat to align interests, and share lessons for the promotion of food trade in the continent;
Addressing challenges around non-tariff barriers, state interventions in trade, non-harmonization of standards, informality, inadequate access to finance, and food supply disruptions such as the COVID-19 pandemic remains critical for better functioning regional food markets;
Covid-19 alongside other shocks such as desert locusts, droughts and flooding has worsened the food security situation in volatile regions of the continent. Regular monitoring and reporting of these incidences remains a key task of the Food Security and Hunger Hotspots thematic working group of the Coalition;
Monitoring of food trade flows along key trade corridors in the continent in order to uncover and address blockages emanating from COVID-19 measures and other factors will be a focus area of the Coalition;
The Coalition shall prioritise the empowerment of women in regional value chains through policy engagement and coordination of investments aimed at increasing their participation in food trade;
In recognition of the importance of safe food and the promotion of nutrition in food trade, the Coalition launched a new thematic working group focusing on the coordination of investments and coherence in policy influencing around food safety and nutrition standards;
On the private sector engagement, AGRA and COMESA commit to continue consultations with the private sector in the development of the Regional Food Balance Sheet (RFBS) tool to ensure the initiative is relevant for businesses;
During its policy dialogue, the Coalition discussed the policy responses to climatic shocks and the Covid-19 pandemic on domestic food value chains, international food trade, and food and nutrition security;
The dearth in real time data and information on the extent of the effects of the shocks on food security and functioning of supply chains resulted in the implementation of restrictive measures by governments resulting in temporary disruptions of food flows;
Women, youth and small farmers were particularly impacted by these shocks in various ways including limited access to inputs, markets for products, loss of jobs and income;
The implications for the resilience of food value chains in Sub Saharan Africa hinges on the critical role of informal markets, vulnerability of perishable products to restrictions on mobility and transport, reliance on global food value chains, and scarcity of agri-food data in real (or near) time;
Support to the functioning of informal markets and cross-border food trade: The limited interference with the operations of local and regional staple food markets proved successful;
Strengthening the performance of food value chains – extending policy attention to include actors beyond “farm” and “plate”, such as input suppliers/transporters and food transporters, processors, traders, and retailers. These actors provide farmers with inputs or move food to consumers, and many are small and medium-scale enterprises that perform critical roles in maintaining the food system.
Key recommendations from the dialogue included:
The need for evidence-based decision making – facilitating evidence generation and data systems that are real (or near) time;
Building partnerships, improving coordination and collaboration to enable experience sharing to anchor future efforts. Strengthen public-private dialogues through instruments such as the Coalition;
Support the functioning of informal markets through trade facilitation and policy reforms. The implementation of the AfCFTA, among other actions, should target increases in smallholder farmers’ access to stable and profitable regional agricultural markets.
About the Food Trade Coalition for Africa
The Food Trade Coalition for Africa was launched at the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) in 2019. It is a unique Coalition that brings together players in African food and agriculture trade, leveraging on their diverse views, experiences and knowledge to coordinate food trade investments and policy interventions across the continent. The members of the Coalition include representatives within Africa, and the international community; regional economic communities, private organizations, research institutions, development agencies, academia and think-tanks. With the combined strengths of its members and partners, the Coalition aims to build a stronger consensus on food trade policy, and increase policy coherence and predictability.
Established in 2006, AGRA is an African-led and Africa-based institution that puts smallholder farmers at the center of the continent’s growing economy by transforming agriculture from a solitary struggle to survive into farming as a business that thrives. Together with our partners, we catalyze and sustain an inclusive agricultural transformation to increase incomes and improve food security for 30 million farming households in 11 African countries by 2021.