Director-General  QU Dongyu
A statement by FAO Director-General QU Dongyu


High Level Ministerial Forum on

Building a Resilient Food System in Africa



Dr QU Dongyu, FAO Director-General

26 November 2021



Ladies and gentlemen,


1.         The FAO flagship publication, the State of World Food and Agriculture (SOFA) 2021, launched this week, confirms the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on livelihoods and food security.


2.         SOFA further affirms that the pandemic has been a wake-up call for the world to address the weaknesses, vulnerabilities and multiple risks of our current agrifood systems,


3.         As well as the critical need to safeguard their continued functioning in the face of disruptions.


11.       Despite the challenges, agrifood systems in the Africa region continue to evolve. 


12.       Emerging global and regional trends, growing food markets, science, technology and innovation, and the world’s largest population of young people,


13.       Create opportunities and possibilities to transform agrifood systems across the continent.


14.       Africa holds the potential to be 2 to 3 times more productive than it currently is.


15.       Growing food markets could reach 1 trillion US dollars by 2030.


16.       Successful implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area could expand intra-regional trade in agri-food products and services by 20 to 30% by 2040.


17.       The response to current shocks, such as the pandemic, has led to new technologies and innovations that are reshaping farmers’ and the agrifood sector’s access to markets and services,


18.       As well as extending value chains into previously hard-to-reach areas.


19.       These trends point to growth scenarios that are ripe for innovation and investment in national and regional agrifood systems.


Dear Colleagues,


20.       This is an exciting time for Africa!


21.       Political will is strong.


22.       Supported by frameworks like the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme to implement the AU’s 2063 Agenda - there are big opportunities for game changing solutions.


23.       How can we accelerate the kind of radical change needed for agrifood system transformation in Africa?


24.       Let me put forward three key pathways:


25.       First, by increasing agricultural productivity.


26.       This will ensure that Africa will reap the benefits of the intra-African single market;


27.       It will ensure sustainable agricultural intensification that builds resilient agrifood systems,


28.       Establish food reserves, manages crises, mitigates risk, reduces poverty, and ends hunger.


29.       New science-based knowledge, innovation and technologies can harness the sustainable use of enhanced inputs in agriculture, including improved seeds, animal breeds, and fertilizers.


30.       As well as improved management practices within whole-produce value chains.


31.       In addition, large productivity gains are within reach through investments in improved irrigation and waste management systems.


32.       Secondly, by building resilience by addressing water and climate related challenges in agriculture.


33.       Rural populations in Africa are particularly exposed to climate hazards.


34.       Agrifood systems can substantially contribute to balancing the global carbon cycle and limit greenhouse gas emissions.


35.       Good governance through institutional and legal frameworks will create an inclusive and enabling environment for all actors to adapt to the climate crisis.


36.       We must attract effective investments in sustainable agriculture and water management.


37.       We must invest in climate data and knowledge systems, and in early warning systems for food security and climate-related disasters.


38.       FAO’s innovative and global WaPOR programme monitors crop production and crop water use by satellite remote sensing, and can help to modernize irrigation systems to make them more efficient - 15 African countries are currently involved.


39.       Third is through digitalization and use of data in agriculture for evidence-based policy, planning and implementation to improve efficiency and reduce negative environmental impacts.


40.       As agriculture is more data-driven and data-intensive, sensors, satellites, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things are revolutionizing farming.


41.       Blockchain technology radically improves traceability and promotes food safety;


42.       E-commerce platforms reduce transaction costs, increase market access and provide greater farm income and welfare, especially for smallholder farmers.


43.       Digital technologies and tools must be developed with and for smallholder farmers and rural communities, to engage them in the modern economy and bridge the digital divide.


44.       Some examples of what FAO is doing in this regard- include:


•          Our e-Agriculture Community of Practice: a knowledge-sharing and capacity development platform, with more than 18 700 registered users from more than 190 Member Nations.


•          FAO’s Nuru application for smartphones helps tackle Fall Armyworm in Africa.


•          Our flagship Hand-in-Hand Initiative, the International Platform for Digital Food and Agriculture, and the 1 000 Digital Villages Initiative put technology at the fingertips of all.


•          Considering Africa has the fastest urban growth in the world, FAO’s Green Cities Regional Programme for Africa will strengthen key urban-rural linkages to promote sustainable agrifood systems and greener city lifestyles.


Dear Friends,


45.       Transformation of agrifood systems to make them more efficient, more inclusive, more resilient and more sustainable can only happen with a cross-sectoral, holistic, coherent and coordinated policy environment.


46.       And with the right incentives to attract investments.


47.       FAO’s Strategic Framework 2022-2031 supports the 2030 Agenda through a focused approach on the transformation of agrifood systems,


48.       For better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life for all, leaving no one behind.


49.       FAO is committed to leverage its expertise and experience to work with key partners and stakeholders to transform Africa’s agrifood systems for a better and brighter future for all.


50.       Thank you.