Africa: AGRF – Experts Bank on Youth for Africa’s Food Security

Delegates at the ongoing 12th Africa Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) have expressed concerns of growing food insecurity in Africa and how the continent risks missing on several targets aimed at achieving food sustainability.

Several experts, politicians and agriculturalists believe Africa is able to produce enough food to feed itself and export more, yet the continent remains the most starved and food insecure.

Solutions have been suggested in different sessions during the summit. Some of those include increasing climate funding, bridging gaps in food systems, availing nutritious food, addressing storage and transportation and intra-Africa trade among many other solutions.

However, the AGRF council of the wise believes some of the solutions are long term and for them to be realistically achieved, the youth must take on the mantle.

The Board Chairman of Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Hailemariam Desalegn, said young Africans have to take the lead in rescuing Africa from the shackles of food insecurity by not doing business as usual but instead adopting advanced technologies that will transform Africa’s agricultural sector.

“The main problem why Africa is not being transformed as quickly as we would wish lies in our political economy. In Africa, we are contented with the status quo and are not ashamed of poverty. Leadership at all levels is key to changing this mindset,” said Desalegn, who is also the former Prime Minister of Ethiopia.

He added that, “poverty is shameful but in Africa, many people are resigned to the status quo. It’s young Africans who fought colonialism and its young people who can create the right leadership to transform Africa. We need to understand that we are in a shameful status and act now. Young Africans can emancipate Africa to alleviate poverty and push the continent to be the world’s food hub.”

Desalegn emphasised that one of the best ways to address gaps in agriculture and food insecurity in Africa is to exploit the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

“We need to relinquish some of our national sovereignty if we are to achieve set goals together as a continent,” he said.

Although the youth are called on to transform agriculture on the continent, they are not very attracted to the sector, and according to Oliver Jehiel, the founder of Hello Tractor, an innovative shared-economy platform that makes tractor usage affordable to marginalised farmers in sub-Saharan Africa, the best way to attract youth into agriculture is simply giving them the ability to make money in the sector.

“Young people adapt to technology faster. Their learning curve is quick. They are open to new ideas. They adopt innovation because they have a higher appetite for risk. But innovators have to be responsible for outcomes,” said Jehiel.

The Chief Economist of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, Maximo Torero, set out the key challenges facing Africa. In his framing remarks, he pointed out that by the year 2020, almost 80 per cent of Africans could not afford a healthy diet.

The former Chief Executive Officer of African Union Development Agency (NEPAD), Ibrahim Mayaki, called for clean Africa Agriculture investment as one of the solutions to getting Africa out of food insecurity while addressing climate change as well.

“This can have an impact if there is political will and will put a stop on farmer discrimination,” he said.

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