It is widely known that agriculture is the single greatest opportunity to deliver inclusive economic growth, jobs, and health to the African continent. No region in the world has built a modern economy without first strengthening its agricultural sector.
However, the situation in Africa is bleak as the FAO Africa Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition 2020, published on 30 June 2021, stated that Africa was not on track to meeting the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 targets to end hunger and ensure access by all people to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round and to end all forms of malnutrition. The number of hungry people on the continent has risen by 47.9 million since 2014 and now stands at 250.3 million, or nearly one-fifth of the population.
The 2017, 2018 and 2019 editions of the same report explained that such gradual deterioration of food security was due to conflict, weather extremes, and economic slowdowns and downturns, often overlapping. A continued worsening of food security was expected also for 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to hunger, across all countries in Africa millions of people suffer from widespread micronutrient deficiencies, and overweight and obesity are emerging as significant health concerns in many countries. This report showed that the food system in Africa did not provide food at a cost that made nutritious food affordable to a majority of the population, and that was reflected in the high disease burden associated with maternal and child malnutrition, high body-mass, micronutrient deficiencies and dietary risk factors. The report also showed that 2020 food consumption patterns imposed high health and environmental costs, which were not reflected in food prices. The findings presented in this report highlighted the importance of prioritizing the transformation of food systems to ensure access to affordable and healthy diets for all, produced in a sustainable manner.
On the other hand, rapidly rising demand for food, fueled by population and income growth, provides major opportunities for agri-food systems to accelerate employment creation, boost continental trade, strengthen resilience, and transform African economies. The value of Africa’s food market is projected to increase from US$313 billion in 2010 to US$1 trillion in 2030.
It is important to note that the African Regional Group within the OIC geographical distribution is composed of the following 16 countries: Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo, and Uganda.
The development and implementation of projects the within the “IOFS Year of Africa” will be carried out not only by the main organizer/initiator in the person of the IOFS, but also by the responsible Embassies of the African region in Kazakhstan and in the OIC Member States, as well as, the Ministries of Agriculture of African countries, OIC and regional/international relevant organizations. All projects and activities will be united by a common goal – to improve food security with special focus on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and IOFS Strategic Vision 2031.
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