Kagame sheds light on Africa’s central goal to halt over-reliance on food imports

By Théophile Niyitegeka
On 24 September 2021 at 09:44

President Paul Kagame has said that Africa seeks to end malnutrition and over-reliance on food imports going hand in hand with the creation of new jobs.

Kagame made the revelation at the United Nations Food Systems Summit held virtually on Thursday 23rd September 2021.

The summit served as a historic opportunity to empower all people to leverage the power of food systems to drive the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and get the world back on track to achieve all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

The summit held yesterday was also attended by different dignitaries including the President-elect of the UN General Assembly, Abdulla Shahid; the Prime Minister of Italy, Mario Draghi as well as heads of state and government from across the world.

As he delivered remarks, Kagame thanked UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres for convening the summit which is the first-ever focused on food systems as a driver of sustainable development.

He reminded participants that the global food systems is estimated at around US$8 trillion, which is one-tenth of the entire global economy.

“In Africa, 70% of adults work in agriculture and agribusiness. But our continent’s food systems are often fragmented and inefficient. This represents a tremendous opportunity to speed up progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals,” he said.

Kagame stressed the need for transformations of food systems ‘including greater investment in digital technologies, biotechnology, accessible financial services and other proven innovations’.

The President highlighted that it will be helpful as the world continues to work to mitigate effects of COVID-19 pandemic.

“For Africa, the central goal is to halt our continent’s over-reliance on food imports, end malnutrition and create new jobs,” he said.

Kagame told participants that the African Union Development Agency (NEPAD), has worked to facilitate an African Common Position in advance of the summit with a focus on priority tracks including adoption of nutritious policies, establishment of food reserves and expanding school feeding programs.

It also put emphasis on supporting local markets, food supply chains and expand trade within Africa.

The third priority is to work to increase agricultural financing to 10 % of public expenditure.

The fourth is about facilitating smallholder farmers and ensure women’s access to productive resources while the fifth is to expand social safety nets and climate data systems.

“Accountability for advancing these actions will include regular reviews under the African Union’s Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Program (CAADP). New funding mechanisms can speed up progress, such us the Financing Facility for Food and Nutrition proposed by the African Development Bank,” said Kagame.

The President emphasized that the summit laid the groundwork for a renewed commitment to the broad global partnerships needed in order to transform food systems and meet the Sustainable Development Goals.

“Now is the moment for the world to rise to this challenge, together,” he noted.

Guterres commended the Summit for “leading the way to food systems that can drive the global recovery in three fundamental ways. For people, the planet and prosperity."

Over the past 18 months, the Summit has brought together all UN Member States and constituencies around the world, including thousands of youth, food producers, Indigenous Peoples, civil society, researchers, private sector, and the UN system – to bring about tangible, positive changes to the world’s food systems.

As a people’s summit and a solutions summit, it has recognized that everyone, everywhere must take action and work together to transform the way the world produces, consumes and thinks about food.

President Paul Kagame has said that Africa seeks to end malnutrition and over-reliance on food imports going hand in hand with the creation of new jobs. Photo Village Urugwiro