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Africa free trade body to transform continent’s food system through investment

Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has said the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) would offer a unique opportunity for the transformation of the continent’s food system.

FAO’s Regional Representative for Africa, Abebe Haile-Gabriel, said the AFCFTA would address the continent’s hunger issues.

According to a  statement from the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) on Wednesday,  Haile-Gabriel made the remark at the ongoing Seventh Session of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD) in Brazzaville, Congo.

The meeting was co-organised by the ECA and the World Food Programme (WFP) in collaboration with the government of Congo.

Haile-Gabriel said Africa was not on track to achieve zero hunger by 2030 but, however, emphasised the importance of the political will and commitment of African governments at the highest level.

“The results remain unsatisfactory and there are many challenges due to climate change, the poor economic situation and the negative impacts of COVID -19 as well as the lack of public investments,” he said.

He added that national and local level actions and investments were also critical to addressing the issues of hunger in Africa.

He said there was an urgent need for the continent to build back and forward better after the COVID-19 pandemic, with governments being called on to invest in social protection measures to save the most vulnerable in society.

“The transformation of the African food system is crucial to help end hunger,” he said.

Haile-Gabriel added that the adoption of holistic multi sectoral approach was needed.

A representative of WFP, Chris Toe, said African countries needed to prioritise and scale up investments in rural transformation, sustainable infrastructure and human capital development as they worked toward eliminating hunger and food insecurity.

Toe noted that the approach would assist in Africa’s quest to achieve zero hunger as espoused in the SDGs and Africa’s 2025 commitment to end hunger and Agenda 2063 aspirations.

The Congolese Agriculture Minister,  Joseph-Antoine Kasongo, said the new administration was determined to accelerate the development of agriculture to end hunger.

 

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