Press Release: Former Ethiopia Prime Minister appeals for collaboration in fast-tracking Africa’s food system transformation
LUSAKA, Zambia: July 19, 2022 – Former Ethiopia Prime Minister, and Board Chair of AGRA, H.E. Hailemariam Dessalegn has urged Africa’s leaders to collaborate in addressing the triple-threat problem – climate change, COVID-19, and the Russia Ukraine Conflict – that has recently worsened the continent’s food security situation.
He was speaking during the fourth Mid-Year Coordination Meeting of the African Union, Regional Economic Communities and Regional Mechanisms, in Lusaka, Zambia on Sunday.
Citing the latest Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report, which showed that 60% of the world’s poor now live in Africa, H.E. Dessalegn highlighted the need for quick action.
“There is a sense of urgency here if we are to transform the continent’s agriculture and food systems, we need to join forces across countries and regions. We need to build systems and institutions that can deliver the agriculture sector, markets, and trade to our farmers with the strong capacity and expertise to match” he said.
He further urged Africa’s institutions and development organizations to team up and together support the solutions needed to lift the continent out of the rut that it is currently stuck in.
“We need better coordination among our organizations, with dedicated capacity for RECs (Regional Economic Communities) and between the African Union Commission and the Africa Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) to be able to respond to the challenges at hand,” he said, while offering AGRA’s support, which comprises over 200 experts from 29 African countries to support the process.
H.E. Dessalegn met with H.E. President Hakainde Hichilema to discuss his country’s progress in transforming the national pathways to food systems established during last year’s UN Food Systems Summit and strategies for a sustainable transition.
The conversation also addressed Zambia’s role in regional food trade and the support required of AGRA. H.E. Dessalegn further used the opportunity to invite H.E. Hichilema to the AGRF 2022 Summit, set for September 5 – 9 in Kigali, Rwanda.
Separately, H.E. Dessalegn met with Zambia’s Minister for Agriculture, Hon. Mtolo Phiri for discussions on the country’s priorities for agricultural transformation. He later engaged leaders from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) on matters related to regional integration, and AGRA’s role in supporting the process.
AGRA is a farmer-centered, African-led, partnerships-driven institution that is working to transform smallholder farming from a solitary struggle to survive to a business that thrives. In collaboration with its partners—including African governments, researchers, development partners, the private sector and civil society— AGRA’s work primarily focuses on smallholder farmers – men and women who typically cultivate staple crops on two hectares or less. AGRA is now recognized across the continent as a strong voice for African rural development, a prosperous agricultural economy, and for supporting thousands of small African businesses and millions of African families to improve agriculture to ensure food security and improve their livelihoods.