By Samuel Hinneh
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations Organisation (UNO) says the African union celebration of agriculture and UN international year of family farming in 2014 will offer the needed transformation African agriculture requires to reduce poverty and hunger eradication across the continent by 2025.
According to FAO both celebrations will lend a new impetus to efforts aimed at transforming subsistence farmers into trained and efficient producers, connected to markets and contributing to poverty reduction and hunger eradication across the continent.
?The year of agriculture is aimed at consolidating commitments towards new priorities, strategies, and targets for achieving results and impacts, with special focus on sustained, Africa-led growth, propelled by stronger, private sector investments and public-private partnerships?, said Mr Modibo Traore, FAO Sub-regional Coordinator for Eastern Africa and Representative in Ethiopia, to the AU and ECA.
In 2003, at the African Union (AU) summit in Maputo, African leaders made bold commitments to support agriculture: pledging to allocate at least 10 percent of national budgets to agriculture, to adopt sound agricultural development policies and to achieve at least 6 percent agricultural growth. Ten years later, progress on the Maputo targets has had mixed results, with several countries falling short of the targets.
Significant progress made
So far, 38 countries in the world – 11 from Africa have already achieved the Millennium Development Goal of reducing hunger between 1990 and 2015 three years before the deadline and poverty before 2015. They include Algeria, Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Djibouti, Ghana, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe and Togo.
Djibouti, Ghana, and Sao Tome and Principe have met the more ambitious 1996 World Food Summit goal to reduce by half the total number of hungry.
?A trend that is emerging is that most countries that have reached or surpassed the 10 percent allocation of their national budget to the agricultural sector, have generally seen an increase in agricultural production, as well as made significant progress in reducing hunger?, said Mr Traore.
According to Traore, as 2015 is approaching, focus is now shifting on not just reducing hunger, but eradicating it altogether.
It is with this in mind that African Heads of State and Government met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 1st July 2013. The meeting on ?Renewed Partnership for a Unified Approach to end Hunger in Africa by 2025 within the comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) Framework,? took place at the initiative of the African Union (AU), FAO, and the Lula Institute along with broad involvement of non-state actors.
Delegates at the meeting adopted a declaration and a roadmap to end hunger through better policies, increases resource allocation to fight hunger and renewed inclusive partnership with a wide range of state and none state actors.
?The commitment of the African Union Commission was crucial in achieving the goals of the meeting. FAO is committed to supporting the AU and African Nations in reaching the 2025 hunger free Africa target,? Mr Traore said.
Innovative solutions required
Despite the achievements, ending hunger from Africa still faces some challenges.
?These challenges need to be addressed in an inclusive and multi-sectorial approach,? Mr Traore said.
?Africa is witnessing unprecedented economic growth of proportions, but it is also the only continent in the world where the total number of hungry people has gone up since 1990. The challenge now is to translate the vision of a food-secure Africa into reality by tackling the multiple causes of hunger through partnerships and innovative financial solutions,? he added.
The recent discoveries of oil, gas and other new mineral deposits by a number of African countries provide a viable source of financing for Africa?s development. If well managed and properly channelled, some of the revenues from these resources can be invested in the agricultural sector through innovative mechanisms.
One such mechanism is the Africa Solidarity Trust Fund for Food Security, which was officially launched during the 38th Session of the FAO Conference in June 2013. The fund currently has USD 40 million, to initially support projects in Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mali and Niger. The major contributions so far come from Equatorial Guinea and Angola.
The Fund is one of the few Africa-led innovative mechanisms of mobilizing resources from Africa for Africa, which intend to strengthen food security across the continent by assisting countries to eradicate hunger and malnutrition, eliminate rural poverty and manage natural resources across the continent in a sustainable manner.