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AGRF to Focus on future of food systems in Africa

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A lineup of 500 guests, including governments, private sector, youth, women leaders, and farmer organizations will convene in Nairobi, Kenya on September 6-10 for the AGRF 2021 Summit under the leadership of H.E Uhuru Kenyatta.

They are expected to be joined virtually by over 10,000 delegates from more than 150 countries for the Summit, which will focus on accelerating progress towards the development of resilient food systems on the continent.

The AGRF 2021 Summit program will feature new commitments to the Future Food Systems on equitable livelihoods, nutrition & health, resilience, and competitiveness. 

Under the theme of Pathways to Recovery and Resilient Food Systems, this year’s AGRF Summit will put a spotlight on new commitments to the future of African food systems and showcase how resilience will be built out of leadership at all levels.

The Summit will have a special focus on the role of women and youth in transforming Africa’s food systems with various issues faced by these groups expected to dominate the discussions at the First Ladies Forum and the Youth Hall respectively.

The former Prime Minister of Ethiopia and AGRF Board Chair, H.E. Hailemariam Dessalegn, said that he was inspired to see African leaders make Agriculture a priority but noted that a lot more needed to be done.

“Now more than ever we must prioritize inclusive agricultural transformation. We must work collaboratively to ensure that policy, technology, and finances respond to the needs of our farmers.

This is critical to achieving zero hunger across the continent and around the globe. H.E. Dessalegn added.

Co-organized with the Government of Kenya, with the support of 26 partner institutions, this year’s Summit comes at a pivotal time when global voices convene under the Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) to shift the conversation on how food is produced and consumed and the role it plays to support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

As part of its contribution to the UNFSS, the AGRF 2021 Summit aims to elevate the single, coordinated African voice, by identifying immediate actions and steps to be taken to accelerate progress towards the development of resilient food systems.

Representing the host government, Kenya’s Minister for Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives, the Hon. Peter Munya, said the conversation at the AGRF needs to extend beyond agriculture and consider the food system from farm to fork.

“We must change the way we approach and prioritize food systems on the continent. We can no longer limit food systems to the farm.

Our approach must reflect the complexity and importance of food systems and value of collaboration, as governments, the private sector, development partners and consumers, to deliver more inclusive and resilient food systems on the continent,” he said.

COVID-19 highlighted the fragility of the continent’s food systems. Lockdowns, curfews, and illnesses revealed threats in supply throughout Africa, and the pandemic was another example of the need to build more resilient food systems on the continent.

Since 2014, droughts have cost the region US$372 billion. While the worst locust outbreak in a generation in Ethiopia and Somalia during 2019/20 destroyed over 356,000MT of cereals and almost 1.5 million hectares of crop and pasture in Ethiopia.

The AGRF 2021 Summit will provide a platform for all stakeholders to align on the actions and commitments needed to build resilient food systems which end hunger and support the delivery of sustainable development goals.

Jennifer Baarn, Acting Managing Director AGRF said, the AGRF 2021 Summit is a defining moment for Africa’s food systems.

“This is our time to create our own vision for Africa’s food systems,” she said.  It is our time to listen, innovate, plan and invest for Africa. What we invest in African agriculture today will determine the future of food in Africa and the world tomorrow,” she added.

Some of the key highlights at this year’s AGRF 2021 Summit will include the Agribusiness Deal Room, a platform connecting entrepreneurs and governments with investors.

This year the deal room is aiming to showcase a pipeline of USD 5 billion of investment opportunities across Africa. The Summit will also feature the Africa Food Prize, a Presidential Summit, and a Ministerial Roundtable.

This year’s launch attracted among other dignitaries, Hon. Gerardine Mukeshimana, Minister, Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources, Rwanda, and Hon. Salifou Ouedraogo, Minister of Agriculture, Bukina Faso.

It was also graced by David Nabarro, Special Envoy on Covid-19 for the World Health Organisation; Godfrey Bahigwa, Director of Rural Economy and Agriculture at African Union Commission, among other guests.