Rwandan President Paul Kagame meeting his Zimbabwean counterpart Emmerson Mnangagwa on the sidelines of Africa Green Revolution Forum 2022 in Kigali.

KIGALI — Africa’s policymakers and agriculture stakeholders need to devise urgent actions to build resilient food systems on the continent, officials said Tuesday as the Africa Green Revolution Forum 2022 opened in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital.

The event, one of the biggest forums for African agriculture, brought together leaders from governments, civil society, as well as farmers, experts, scientists and entrepreneurs.

The summit is co-hosted by the Rwandan government and the Africa Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) group of partners and will run until Friday. 

Rwandan Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente said while opening the forum that this year’s summit’s theme highlighted the urgent need to build inclusive, sustainable and resilient food systems in the post-COVID period. 

“While most countries are recovering from the global shock, our ability to get together more than ever is key in advancing food systems to ensure food security for our people.

“The current high food prices call for bold measures to improve our capabilities for sustainable food production and supply to markets. What we do now impacts tomorrow’s results,” he said.

He called for increased investment in the strategic areas of the agricultural value chain such as reduction of post-harvest losses estimated at between 30 percent to 40 percent of total production in developing countries, use of fertilizers and improved seeds and adoption of smart agriculture as well as de-risking the sector.

For this to be achieved there is a need to build a strong partnership between the public and private sectors, Ngirente said.

Estimates of Africa’s investment needs to trigger and sustain agro-food transformation range from $40 billion to $77 billion every year from the public sector, and up to $180 billion in private sector funding, according to the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).

“The food systems transformation is key to economic transformation; we need this now, anything short of this implies that Africa is likely to be the only hungry continent by 2027,” said Hailemariam Desalegn, former Ethiopian prime minister, and chair of AGRF Partners Group, during his opening remarks.

Noting that the cost of food is 42 percent higher on average since the shock of COVID-19 when the food crisis began, Desalegn warned that the gains made in achieving food security are being eroded yet again due to climate change effects, particularly on the African continent.

“The increasing burden on governments and farmers calls for urgent and bold actions to be taken.

“We are in a time when we need urgent action because every minute when we don’t take action, at least an adult, two children and two women fall below the poverty line due to hunger and malnutrition,” Desalegn said.

“We can’t afford to wait, we need bold actions because the challenges we are facing require stronger and innovative leadership which delivers results.” 

Geraldine Mukeshimana, Rwandan minister of Agriculture, called for actionable plans to get the continent out of the present food crisis and develop resilience for future survival. – Xinhua