Josefa Sacko, the AU commissioner for agriculture, rural development, blue economy and sustainable environment, said that out of the 828 million people listed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) as facing food insecurity in the world, a vast majority of them are in Africa, with East Africa having the largest population of those facing starvation and hunger.
"We are staring at food security problems because out of these 828 million, 278 million are mostly from Africa," Sacko said at a briefing in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi on Thursday evening.
The AU is concerned that an additional 150 million people have joined the food insecurity bandwagon since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which indicates that the African continent is not on target to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) on food security.
"Reducing food insecurity on the continent is quite important. We have 278 million people in Africa, a fifth of the population in Africa, who do not have access to nutritious foods," Sacko said.
The food crisis in the East African region has been worsened by the Ukraine crisis which affected the delivery of fertilizers and grains to much of the Global South, especially Africa, Sacko observed.
She added that the conflict in Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, and the prolonged drought cycle in Kenya have also undermined efforts to feed civilians.
In response to the food insecurity crisis in Africa, the AU has adopted progressive measures to boost crop yield while increasing investments in the agricultural sector, Sacko said.
Those measures, according to Sacko, are being implemented by AU member states and foreign partners, including China, which have provided financial support to enhance the implementation of ambitious strategies to boost food security in the continent.