Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania – September 5, 2023: The 2022 Africa Agriculture Status Report (AASR23) launches with the message that the repercussions of inaction are not just confined to hunger and malnutrition but extend to economic, social, and environmental domains, with the potential to undermine the progress made over the years.
The new study underscores the need to address the challenges affecting African food systems considering the imminent threat posed by climate change, and the potential consequences of inaction.
Titled “Empowering Africa’s Food Systems”, AASR23 offers an in-depth exploration of the vulnerabilities, challenges, and transformative potential of the continent’s food systems. This timely report delves into a holistic understanding of the intricacies of African food systems from socio-economic vulnerabilities to the pivotal role of knowledge and technology, while highlighting the urgent need for innovative financing.
“This report strives to show that Innovative Finance is not just a buzzword – it is an essential tool for Africa’s journey towards sustainable, resilient, and inclusive food systems. As the continent faces the dual challenges of rapid population growth and climate change, finding new financing mechanisms will be paramount in shaping a prosperous and food secure future for all its citizens,” said AGRA President, Dr. Agnes Kalibata.
Out of the 50 indicators outlined in the Food Systems Countdown Initiative (FSCI) framework, sub-Saharan African countries are performing worse than the global average in a total of 32 indicators, mostly related to diets, nutrition, and health. On the other hand, sub-Saharan African countries are performing better than the global average in the remaining 18 indicators, including those on food systems’ greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and biosphere integrity. The above is accentuated by the fact that up to 650 million Africans—half of the continent’s population—lack economic or physical access to sufficient food to meet their minimum needs every day (BCG, 2021).
While African governments are committed to tripling intra-African trade in agricultural commodities and services by 2025 as part of the 2014 Malabo Declaration, the aspiration is far-fetched as this kind of trade continues to dwindle from its peak in 2013 to less than 15 percent in 2022. However, if fully implemented, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) could raise household income by nine percent by 2035 while lifting 50 million people out of extreme poverty. Africa could see Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) increase by between 111 and 159 percent under the AfCFTA.
The report offers a deep dive into the underlying challenges that have historically held back the potential of the continent’s vast natural resources. Overall, despite progress in food production, processing and distribution, significant challenges and failures persist, leading to an alarmingly poor state of food and nutrition security across the continent. The report unveils a multifaceted web of challenges that stretch from production to consumption. While daunting, the report provides a clear call for a concerted response to these challenges from governments, the private sector, communities, and individuals alike.
“The findings in this year’s AASR are not just a reflection of the current challenges but also a roadmap for future actions, guiding the continent towards food systems where every African will have access to sustainable, healthy diets,” said Dr. John M. Ulimwengu, the report’s lead author.
The Africa Agriculture Status Report (AASR) is an annual publication that is published by the AGRA since 2013. The AASR has become an important reference point and handbook for Africa’s leaders in their plans to transform the continent’s agricultural prospects for emerging topics on agriculture in Sub Saharan Africa, such as Feeding Africa’s Cities (2020), Building Resilient and Sustainable Food Africa Systems (2021) and Accelerating African Food Systems Transformation (2022).
The Report puts forward recommendations based on immense scholarly effort and valuable expert contributions for immediate actions and steps that African governments, Pan-African organizations, development partners, the private sector, and civil society must take to accelerate the transformation of food systems.
Among the trends observed in past reports include increased public private partnership, adoption of technology, use of improved agricultural inputs, a greater focus on capacity development and an expanded focus on extension services.
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.
The AGRF, recently rebranded to Africa’s Food Systems Forum, is the world’s premier forum for African agriculture, bringing together stakeholders in the agricultural landscape to take practical actions and share lessons that will move African agriculture forward.