FAO Regional Office for Africa

16th FAO Sub-Regional Office for Central Africa Multidisciplinary Team meeting opens in Cameroon

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14 November 2023, Yaoundé  - The 16th Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) meeting of the FAO Sub-Regional Office for Central Africa officially opened today in Yaoundé, Cameroon, the host country of the event. Under the aegis of the Government, the official ceremony was presided over by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of Cameroon, H.E. Gabriel Mbairobe. The event was attended by Honoré Tabuna, Commissioner for the Environment, Natural Resources, Agriculture and Rural Development at the Commission of the Community of Central African States (ECCAS),  the FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa Abebe Haile-Gabriel, members of the diplomatic corps, and FAO’s technical experts and team leaders from across Central Africa.

Athman Mravili, FAO Sub-regional Coordinator for Central Africa and Representative in Gabon, set out the objectives for the session, set within the FAO Strategic Framework 2022-2031. These meetings, he said, are a space for the exchange of information, good practices, lessons learned, and reflections on priority themes to align FAO's work with the needs and expectations of Central African countries.

According to the FAO Coordinator, the MDT brings together experts and practitioners, public and non-state and policy makers in the sub-region to “discuss the situation, challenges and opportunities related to food security and resilience of populations. It also aims to identify innovative solutions and formulate concrete recommendations to address the main bottlenecks to food and nutrition security in the ECCAS region in a sustainable manner,” he said.

For his part, Honoré Tabuna, on behalf of the President of the ECCAS Commission, thanked the Government of Cameroon for hosting the event. “The Economic Commission of Central African States is keen that the private sector, already at the heart of different value chains for several years, is now at the heart of reflections - the private sector must be placed at the heart of the model to be built for the real development of food systems in Central Africa,” he said.

He also said the ECCAS Commission wishes to concentrate its efforts initially on the establishment of a model for the development of production basins, based on trials under way in the Member States.

Officially opening the MDT, H.E. Gabriel Mbairobe expressed the gratitude of the Government of Cameroon to FAO for "its constant contribution to the development of agriculture in Central Africa". He also expressed his gratitude to the Director-General of FAO for the trust placed in Cameroon to host this meeting and stressed that this meeting "provides an opportunity for experts to look at the issues on the agenda in order to find answers to the various challenges related to the development of agrifood systems in the sub-region."

Improving food systems and strengthening resilience

For three days, the exchanges planned during this meeting will give each participating country the opportunity to examine the existing situation and design sustainable solutions to be adopted and aimed at optimizing and developing appropriate initiatives to produce its basic food, guaranteeing its sustainable development by strengthening the resilience of its populations.

The theme chosen this year is "Improving food systems and strengthening the resilience of vulnerable populations in the ECCAS region". Despite enormous natural potential, a generous climatic context and a young population, the ECCAS region continues to face a series of socio-economic and environmental challenges that have a significant impact on food security and the resilience of populations.

Factors such as climate change, land degradation, conflict, migration and rapid population growth are putting considerable pressure on the region's agrifood systems. With a poverty rate of around 45 per cent, 30 per cent of the population have insufficient access to adequate food. Average child malnutrition is 15 per cent, there are more than 2 million refugees, and only 20 per cent of vulnerable households in Central Africa have access to formal social protection mechanisms,  highlighting a critical need for initiatives to strengthen people's resilience.

The theme also aligns with the FAO Strategic Framework 2022-2031’s Four Betters:

  • Better Production
  • Better Nutrition
  • Better Environment
  • Better Life

Solutions in focus at sub-regional meeting

Many opportunities exist to reduce inequalities for the development of inclusive, efficient, resilient and sustainable agrifood systems, such as the use of public-private partnership modalities or in collaboration with non-governmental organizations and research institutions.

Participants this week will review FAO's achievements, challenges solutions and progress with a view to achieving the 2030 Agenda.

In recent years, FAO’s portfolio has quadrupled with a total commitment of 190 operational and active projects in the sub-region for a total approved amount of USD 396 million. Structurally, the countries with the largest portfolio (in USD) are the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, Chad, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tomé and Principe, the Congo and Gabon.

FAO supports ECCAS countries through technical cooperation projects which provide technical expertise in agriculture and other related areas.