World leaders discuss food systems in Africa

World leaders on Wednesday discussed the status of food systems in Africa and the essence to build tough systems, to sustain agricultural activities in the continent.

The discussion was held during a panel session at the ongoing African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) virtual summit in Kigali, Rwanda.

During a plenary session featuring eminent leaders discussing the status of food systems in Africa U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, Ted McKinney, listed a five-point plan about how Europe and the US could help Africa gear up for accelerated international trade.

“First, talk with farmers and offer them a hand-up, but let them choose the direction they take. Don’t issue a mandate,” he said.

“Next, go deeper on free-trade agreements. Third, help open up opportunities for Africa that don’t tie them or restrict their growth.

“Then, allow farmers to develop their own innovative spirit and let them choose what’s right for them. Finally, encourage sustainability,” he said.

During the opening AGRF Board Chair and former Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Dessalegn said agriculture remains the “surest path to inclusive economic growth, jobs creation and dealing with the many challenges around climate change, migration and beyond.

He said no region has built a modern economy without first strengthening the agricultural sector.

Also, Agnes Kalibata, President, AGRF, said cities can be used to grow the rural population, although the food systems need modification.

“We can actually use cities to really grow our rural population, but we won’t do that unless we address the challenges we have talked about” and “rethink our food systems,” she said.

In another session which focused on how women are developing innovative solutions to respond and overcome the challenges from COVID-19 Director at AWARD, Kenya, Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg, said: “there has been the assumption that what happens in the private sphere is not relevant to the public.

Male scientists are now understanding for the first time the importance of care work and its unpaid nature, which is forcing institutions to make better accommodation for all.

“We are realizing that the traditionally “female” roles of care and community are part of building resilience and men are now invited to participate more fully in this.”


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