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African people deserve a high standard of living, quality of life, sound health and well-being

Conference closes with a vision to free the region from hunger and all forms of malnutrition, including undernourishment and obesity

Photo: ©FAO

26 February 2018, Khartoum — African national leaderships will play a critical role in advancing food security and nutrition in the region and providing African people with a high standard of living, quality of life, and freedom from hunger and malnutrition. This was the declaration that came out from the 30th FAO Regional Conference for Africa.

During the closing session of the Conference, 48 ministers and deputy ministers from African member States emphasized that sustainable food and agriculture systems in Africa have direct dividends in curbing the current negative influences on public health, decent youth employment, education, economic and social development.

Member States welcomedthe opportunity of sharing experiences and identifying challenges in the sector, and FAO Director-General said, “This Regional Conference has provided us with a unique platform to debate critical issues affecting the future of Africa’s rural and agriculture sector, and solutions to overcome critical challenges for the next generation.”

The member States recognized that amplified efforts and concerted action by all stakeholders are essential to reverse the current worsening trends and enable achieving Africa’s commitment to the Zero Hunger. “The Malabo Declaration to end hunger by 2025 can only be achieved if we redouble our efforts and translate our strong political commitment into effective action. This was the clear message that arose from the special event on Zero Hunger,” FAO Director-General, José Graziano da Silva, said in his closing statement.

For inclusive and sustainable agriculture

Discussions during the Conference involved also concerns over the deteriorating trends in undernourishment and malnutrition in all its forms in Africa. With challenges posed by population growth, member States reiterated the importance of increasing agricultural productivity through innovation, technologies, improved inputs and mechanism while addressing issues of conflict and security.

In the Declaration, Member States recognized the importance of the comprehensive food systems approach to address the multiple burden of malnutrition and the importance of addressing the issues of conflict and security, peace-building and climate change as drivers of food insecurity in Africa.

To solve these challenges, Member States called for a comprehensive, multisectoral, multidisciplinary and regional approaches in the formulation and implementation of policies, strategies and programmes based on comparative advantage and for an inclusive and sustainable agricultural growth. They also identified the importance of the private sector’s role in sustainable food and agriculture value chains.

The Declaration of Member States encompasses placing conducive policies and strategies, mobilizing and allocating adequate resources, and channelling institutional capacities and capabilities for accelerated implementation of sustainable food and agriculture systems in an integrated and coordinated manner.

Member States also committed to increasing agricultural productivity, including through the application of innovations, technologies, information systems, improved inputs and mechanization.

The Conference also highlighted the need for the youth to be included in investments to modernize the agricultural sector, and involving them in policy formulation and dialogues and decision-making processes concerning them.

Member States also pointed out viable paths and decent employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for young women and men in farm and non-farm rural activities. Such measures will help addressing the root causes of distress rural outmigration; strengthening rural-urban linkages and reducing the incidence of migration.

FAO’s work in Africa

Member countries further called for more knowledge-sharing and expertise from FAO in order to develop regional approaches, address the impact of increasing urbanization and rising incomes on food consumption patterns and diets, including through nutrition education, capacity-building and awareness-raising. There was a strong message in highlighting the importance of effective education, advocacy and exchange of knowledge to improve the quality of diets and prevent malnutrition in all its forms.

During the discussions, African countries acknowledged FAO’s work on climate change and its impact, including through building resilience to address extreme vulnerability of Africa’s agriculture and rural livelihoods.

FAO presented a range of documents to stress the importance of mainstreaming biodiversity across agriculture, fisheries and forestry. Throughout the Conference’s agenda, there were challenges addressed on the progress made on the Global Action Programme on Food Security and Nutrition in Small Island Developing States and FAO’s Inter-Regional Initiative on SIDS. On the other hand, some of the member countries expressed the need to swiftly tackle persisting issues and challenges to Low-Income Food-Deficit Countries (LIFDC), more particularly, landlocked countries.

During one of the sessions, the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) presented recent developments and deliberations, which Member States reviewed and considered as appropriate follow-up actions for the African region.

The Conference also held a special session celebrating the 40th anniversary of FAO country representations, which discussed the potential opportunities for domesticating the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in alignment with the Malabo Declaration framework as part of a wider shift to accelerate inclusive agricultural growth in the region. Between 2017 and 2019, 21 FAO country representations in Africa will be marking their 40th anniversaries.

Member countries agreed to hold the 31st Session of the Regional Conference for Africa in Zimbabwe in 2020. The conference discussed a preliminary list of themes which will be reviewed and confirmed after deliberations on the sub regional priorities and needs.

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