Committee on World Food Security

Making a difference in food security and nutrition

6 September 2022 | Remarks by CFS Chair at the African Green Revolution Forum 2022

06 Sep 2022

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Hon. Gerardine Mukeshimana, Minister for Agriculture and Animal Resources, Rwanda

My dear friend Dr Agnes Kalibata, President of AGRA.

Honourable Ministers,

Excellences, ladies and gentlemen,

I am extremely delighted to join you at this year’s AGRF.

As you know, the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) serves as the global food governance body of the United Nations where 135 Members States of the UN - including most of your countries - are joined by civil society, private sector, research and academia, UN agencies and programmes, international financial institutions, foundations and others, to deliberate upon and drive convergence on global policies to address systemic and structural causes of hunger and malnutrition in support of the efforts led by countries. 

African countries are at the heart of the Committee. Your leadership is the energy that makes CFS vibrant. As the Chairperson of the Committee, I witness how Africa is providing the vision, the determination and the policies to make food security and nutrition - built upon sustainable and inclusive food systems - a reality on the continent.

This is why I want to start with a message of optimism in the middle of this moment of global crisis that we are living in.

Africa will shape the future of global food systems

As the Chairman of the UN Committee on World Food Security, Africa gives me hope.

First, you have a regional long-term strategy, consistent with and adapting to new challenges, as contained in the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). Through the leadership of the African Union and NEPAD, CAADP offers the most coordinated continental agricultural development blueprint harnessing the potential of your smallholder farmers and SMEs, and supported by governments.

CAADP is not only a central component of African efforts like your bold Africa 2063 vision, but also of global efforts towards the Sustainable Development Goals. To me, “Vision 2063” is also a vision for the world with Africa being a cornerstone of global food security and nutrition, of biodiversity, of water and soils stewardship, for a climate-neutral world. 

Second, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) offers an opportunity of a lifetime for your countries to increase trade between yourselves and to prosper. Food trade will be critical.

Third, and most important, is the bold and transformative national leadership across the continent supported by committed partners like AGRA and others.

Nature of Crisis 

We meet at a critical time. The realization of our people’s right to food is in jeopardy.

The interlinked shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic, worsening effects of climate change and of conflicts including the war in Ukraine, have destabilized global food, energy and finance systems.

Today, we are not only facing a food crisis, we have a cost of living crisis that is impacting all of us. While the current challenge is one of food access, we are likely to face a food supply and availability crisis in 2023 and beyond unless we restore global supplies of inputs, including fertilizers.

In that regard, Africa gives me hope. I do not exaggerate if I say achieving sustainable global food security will depend largely on the future of African food systems. Your diverse agroecological conditions offer endless opportunities to break global dependencies on a few commodities while providing superior nutritional value.

Coordinated Action and Solutions

While the solutions to the challenges you are currently facing may be local and regional, action has to be global. We must act together, ensuring that all our actions to address the crisis are aligned and converge in support of your regional and national-led solutions.

At the local and national levels, we have two priority actions:

First, direct support to smallholder and family farmers, cooperatives and SMEs who produce 80% of the food we eat:

  • It is critical to build the resilience and sustainability of food systems by empowering farmers to access inputs, knowledge, technology, insurance and finance.
  • We are facing a dramatic increase in prices and lack of availability and affordability of fertilizers as a result of the war in Ukraine. It is extremely important that, while the global diplomacy led by the UN Secretary General advances an agreement to make the fertilizers produced in the area of conflict flow into global markets, smallholders and family farmers are supported and prioritized on their access to fertilizers.
  • This should go hand-in-hand with enhancing efficiency, especially in the use of fertilizers and water, unleashing the full potential of agroecology and other innovative approaches to sustainable agriculture and maximizing the use of soil maps.
  • This will encourage increased local production and consumption of diverse food varieties, while increasing the incomes and enhancing the resilience of smallholder and family farmers.

Second, reinforce social protection systems that are needed to prevent a slide into poverty of those in vulnerable situations. This include well-proven nutrition-focused social protection schemes, such as school meals or cash transfers.

At the global level, I suggest THREE urgent actions as well:

1.    Restore Global Food and Inputs Trade

We have already seen the first essential step, with the Black Sea Grain Deal already delivering on bringing food from Ukraine to global markets. This is contributing to stabilising global food prices.

However, it is extremely important now that the deal is extended to ensure fertilizers flow into global markets, to avoid a global decrease on crop yields next year due to the lack of availability of inputs. At the same time, we need to encourage diversifying sources of foods, whether imported or domestic. 

2.    Equip Countries with the Financial Resources, Fiscal Space and Funds

This is critical to support and protect people and family farmers, while speeding up the transition to more resilient and sustainable food systems. The IMF, World Bank the African Development Bank and the donor community are playing an essential role to make this happen.

3.    Ensure that Food is Accessible and Secured In all Humanitarian Contexts around the World

We welcome the progress we are seeing globally after the agreements at the WTO Ministerial Conference in June that facilitates access by WFP to humanitarian food supply. This should be sustained to support communities in greatest need.

The Committee on World Food Security (CFS) is ready to support your efforts, as is our High-Level Panel of Experts for Food Security and Nutrition, which backstops CFS with its scientific inputs. 

Thank you for your attention.