At the June 2014 AU Summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, Director General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) José Graziano da Silva congratulated African leaders for “raising the bar” in the fight against hunger. There is a renewed effort to boost regional food security, which incorporates a strengthening of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) strategy for agriculture development by including links to social protection, and establishing an Africa-for-Africa South-South Cooperation food security trust fund. There is a fresh commitment to eradicating chronic hunger by 2025. In fact, in Malabo, African leaders formally committed to a number of bold goals to reflect ‘The Vision of the Agriculture We Want’ – including to ‘Ending Hunger by the Year 2025’ and ‘Improving Nutrition’.
“There is an urgent need to value our local and traditional nutritious food and bring back the issue of eating well”, Graziano da Silva said. “I share with you that a major priority is to cut the food import bill and reduce dependence on imports.”
African-led development for sustainable food security
The Malabo summit also marked the 10th anniversary of the creation of CAADP, which is a region-wide cooperative effort aimed at boosting agricultural productivity.
“CAADP was designed by, is led by, and belongs to Africa,” noted Graziano da Silva during a meeting of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) held at the Summit. “True and sustainable development needs to grow from within, and that is what CAADP is about.”
The key messages that FAO has promoted in Malabo included notes on family farmers need for support that responds to their needs and the conditions they live in. That support needs to go beyond technology to include credit and access to markets and knowledge. Also, it has been stressed that conditions that favour private investment in agriculture need to be encouraged – and, more important than the quantity of investment, that the quality of investment is such that the food security of rural populations is increased and land ownership is encouraged. It is important to note, here, the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure.
According to FAO spokespeople, the sustainability of food systems and integration of the poor into the market need to be strengthened. Programmes to promote better food for rural and young communities such as to improve school meal programmes and access to food for future generations. At the same time, simply increasing food production in Africa will not by itself be enough.
Food insecurity in Africa – and elsewhere – is often caused by lack of access to food, not inadequate supply. So, a key challenge for Africa is to adopt a more comprehensive approach which include efforts to enhance production but also investments in social protection, such as conditional cash transfer programs, cash for work programmes, and similar approaches.