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Virtual press briefing: Why Africa’s agriculture recovery rests on prioritizing public funds

ONE partnered with the Alliance for Green Revolution for Africa (AGRA) to host a virtual press event on 11 June 2020. The virtual panel discussion also marked the launch the partners’ paper on food security in Africa, titled: How to stop hunger from becoming more deadly than the virus. Read the English and French versions.

The theme of the panel discussion was : “Looming threat amid COVID-19 and locust invasion: Why Africa’s recovery rests on prioritizing funding in Agriculture”. The panel discussion highlighted two key dimensions: 

  • Africa’s current challenges for food security, vis a vis the Covid-19 pandemic and the recent locust plague.
  • Highlighting the what governments can do to prevent COVID from spilling over into a hunger pandemic.

These dimensions covered how COVID-19 threatens to reverse the efforts made by Africa’s leaders over the past decade to end poverty, hunger and malnutrition, and to promote economic growth. To build back for a better Africa, governments and partners should work to ensure that the national economic recovery plans to prioritize the agriculture sector.  The panel was be moderated by South African media personality and anchor Michelle Craig. The panelists included Edwin Ikhouria (ONE in Africa Executive Director), Dr. Fadel Ndiame, (Deputy President AGRA), and Emma Naluyima (young female farmer from Uganda).

Africa accounts for the majority of the nearly 212 million people in the world who are chronically food insecure. Even before COVID-19 hit, the continent faced severe food shortages caused by flood, drought, ongoing conflicts in the Sahel region and the worst locust infestation in decades in East Africa.

When COVID-19 first hit the continent, stringent lockdowns, job losses, lowered remittances and social distancing guidance have meant that millions of farmers and other informal workers in Africa are not able to work, resulting in a significant drop in their production and income. Further, the uncertainty of the pandemic has also pushed developed countries to impose export restrictions and export quotas.

To make matters worse, the recent locust invasion has swept through many parts of East Africa, ravaging crops, destroying agricultural fields, and endangering food supply. With more than 60% of SSA’s population being smallholder farmers, and agriculture responsible for over 20% of SSA’s GDP, the impact has been extremely worrisome.

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