Rwandan President Paul Kagame Monday called for more inclusive, sustainable and holistic approaches to the world's food systems, as Africa strives to stop its overreliance on food imports.
“For Africa our central goal is to halt our continent’s overreliance on food imports and malnutrition and create millions of new jobs in the food economy,” he said.
"In doing so we’ll strike the right balance between people and the planet. The political commitment generated today is essential for solidifying the global partnerships needed to sustain the success of this historic process.”
Kagame said that was why African Union Development Agency (Nepad) was working to facilitate a continental common position in advance of the food systems summit in line with African Union's agenda 2063 and the SDGs.
He disclosed that Africa would pursue solutions in the following priority tracks: adoption of nutritious food policies, established food reserves and expanded school feeding programmes; support local markets and food supply chains; invest in agro-processing for health foods; and expand trade in food products within Africa.
He said that agriculture and agri-business in Africa will drive the attainment of sustainable development goals.
Kagame spoke in Rome as he was representing African States at the ongoing UN Food Systems Pre-Summit taking place July 26-28. The pre-summit is being held ahead of the Summit in New York in September.
Transform food systems
In his capacity as chair of Nepad, the Rwandan President led calls for countries to make bold commitments to transforming their food systems.
“Each country and region must chat its own path to transformation, but this is also a global challenge that we must address together,” he said, adding that in Africa majority of the working age population is employed in the agricultural sector.
He said food markets remain fragmented and links to food processing and value addition services are lacking.
Mr Kagame said even though technologies and bio-technologies are increasingly playing a greater role in African agriculture, too many farmers still do not yet have reliable access to financial services and products for farmers, including insurance.
“As a result, Africa's food producers do not earn the level of income that they deserve and they must cope with high levels of economic risk and uncertainty and transformation is a necessity,” he said.
The UN Food Systems Summit was announced by the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, on World Food Day last October as a part of the Decade of Action for delivery on the SDGs by 2030.
The aim of the Summit is to deliver progress on all 17 of the SDGs through a food systems approach, leveraging the interconnectedness of food systems to global challenges such as hunger, climate change, poverty and inequality.