12 May 2017, Johannesburg – Africa accounts for 45 percent of the world’s surface area suitable for agricultural production. Even with some large arid and semi-arid areas, the continent’s vast water resources are, on average underutilized, with only about 2-3 percent of renewable water resource in use, compared to five percent worldwide. Africa is also home to an abundant supply of labour for agriculture-related products and services.
However, 153 million individuals in sub-Saharan Africa, about 26 percent of the population above 15 years of age, suffered from severe food insecurity in 2014/15 and one in three children under the age of five are presently stunted (State of Food Insecurity 2016: Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition 2016).
“Unlocking the enormous potential of Africa’s agriculture to significantly contribute to sustainable and inclusive growth as well as to peace, security and prosperity, is key to achieving the ‘Africa we Want’ as espoused in the Africa’s Agenda 2063”, said FAO Director-General, José Graziano da Silva, in his address to the Fourth Session of the Pan-African Parliament that met on 11 May 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The address was delivered on his behalf by Lewis Hove, FAO Representative, a.i., for South Africa.
According to FAO, sound rural development policies and programmes for young people are needed, to strengthen their capacities and facilitate access to productive resources needed to drive broad-based growth in the agricultural sector and rural economy.
With almost 200 million people between 15 and 24 years of age, Africa has the youngest population in the world.
FAO informed the Pan-African Parliament of a new FAO Special Programme, entitled “Youth Employment: enabling decent agriculture and agribusiness jobs”. This programme will support the continent in harnessing its huge demographic dividend, while contributing to the rejuvenation of the aging farming population.
Another important aspect in unlocking the potential is to accelerate the enhancement of gender equity and women empowerment. FAO called for policy changes to be directed towards tackling discrimination against girls and women in educational systems, encouraging greater participation of women in productive and remunerative economic activities and increasing their voice in making decisions at all levels of society.
Food and nutrition security
In order to achieve the developmental objectives of Africa, da Silva called for the positioning of food security and nutrition at the highest level of political and legislative agendas.
“Parliamentarians are encouraged to take a lead and work closely with other stakeholders to advance food security, nutrition, and agriculture initiatives”, echoed Lewis Hove, reminding them of the new Memorandum of Understanding between FAO and the Pan-African Alliance, which provides a framework for continuing collaboration on activities of common interest in order to jointly advance legislative and budgetary frameworks for sustainable food security and nutrition in Africa.
Africa for Africa
The Africa Solidarity Trust Fund (ASTF) – an innovative Africa-led fund to support Africa for African development initiatives. The Fund was officially launched during the 38th Session of the FAO Conference in June 2013, with funding totaling over US$40 million and has been made possible thanks to African partnership with Equatorial Guinea, Angola and Cameroon as well as a group of civil society organizations in the Republic of Congo.
The Africa Solidarity Trust Fund (ASTF) with its partnership approach has supported over 36 countries to tackle hunger and poverty, and in so doing is making an important contribution to the Malabo Declaration and the Sustainable Development Goals.
African countries are encouraged to scale up Africa-wide cooperation and South-South and Triangular Cooperation.
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This news release was issued by the FAO South Africa