Addis-Ababa -- Heads of State and Government of African Union Member States, together with representatives of international organizations, civil society organizations, private sector, cooperatives, farmers, youths, academia and other partners have unanimously adopted a Declaration to end hunger in Africa by 2025.
The declaration calls for a combination of policies to promote sustainable agricultural development with social protection, for a budgetary allocation focused on the poor and recognizes the importance of non-state actors to ensure food security.
The document also reaffirms their determination to accelerate the implementation of the Maputo Declaration (July 2003) on Agriculture and Food Security in Africa as outlined within the CAADP (Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme) framework.
African Heads of State and Government met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 1st July 2013 to decide on innovative and actionable measures to put an end to hunger in Africa. The High Level Meeting of African and International Leaders on a Renewed Partnership for a Unified Approach to end Hunger in Africa by 2025 within the CAADP Framework took place at the initiative of the African Union, FAO, and the Lula Institute along with broad non-state actors.
The decisions made at the High-Level Meeting will be discussed by the African Union Assembly said the African Union Commission Chairperson Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
Steady progress and success stories
'To date, ten of the 54 AU Member States have reached the target of allocating at least 10% of public investment in agriculture. Among them are Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Malawi, Mali, Niger and Senegal who have already exceeded the target,' said AU Commission Chairperson Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
'According to the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad) Planning Agency, to date ten countries have exceeded the CAADP target of 6% growth in agricultural production (Angola, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, The Republic of the Congo, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria, Senegal, and Tanzania) and another four have achieved growth of between 5 and 6 per cent,' said Dr Dlamini-Zuma.
In June, the FAO's 38th Conference recognized 38 countries in the world, 11 from Africa, for achieving the Millennium Development Goal target of reducing hunger between 1990 and 2015 three years before the deadline. They are Algeria, Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Djibouti, Ghana, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe and Togo
Three countries - Djibouti, Ghana, and Sao Tome and Principe - have also met the even more ambitious 1996 World Food Summit goal to reduce by half the total number of hungry.
According to the CEO of the NEPAD Agency, Dr. Ibrahim Mayaki, to date nine countries had exceeded the target of 6% agricultural production growth (Angola, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Republic of the Congo, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria, Senegal, and Tanzania) while and another four have achieved average growth of between 5 and 6 per cent.
The former President of Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, reinforced the importance of political commitment to end hunger: 'Those people who are hungry are often not organized; they do not belong to unions, do not have the strength to protest and do not even have the strength to say they are hungry'.
'If the State does not take care of these people, the national budgets will be fully directed to the organized sectors of the society. Therefore, the government needs to earmark a part of the budget for the poor. If this is not done, the problem of hunger will not be solved today, or by 2025, or never.'
Harnessing Africa's great potential
The High Level Meeting of African and international leaders acknowledged that the African region is witnessing economic growth of unprecedented proportions, with a young population and vast natural resources, committed to a roadmap to be implemented primarily with our own resources and with technical assistance and called upon development partners to strengthen their partnerships.
Aligning with the Zero Hunger Challenge launched by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in 2012, the Heads of State and Government and non-state actors recognized the great potential for African agricultural development, the growing youth population and the availability of large land and water resources with agricultural production, crops, including livestock, fisheries and forestry.
Addressing the Addis Ababa meeting, FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva highlighted the need for an integral approach to promote food security.
'To achieve food security in a sustainable way, we must work with small-scale producers, helping them increase production and productivity, but we also need to look at access to food, and ensure that poor families have the means to produce the food they need or earn the income needed to buy their food.'
'FAO is ready to rally behind African leadership to meet the goal of ending hunger in Africa,' affirmed Graziano da Silva
In line with this goal, the African Union has declared 2014 as the Year of Agriculture and Food Security. Every three years, countries that make significant progress and efforts toward eradicating hunger by 2025 will receive an Award during the African Union Summit.
In recognition of the role that agriculture, as a whole and family production in particular, plays in food security, 2014 has also been declared by the United Nations General Assembly as the International Year of Family Farming.
Dlamini-Zuma also welcomed the partnership between the African Union Commission, FAO and Lula Institute to promote food security in Africa.
'African Union Commission cherishes its collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Lula Institute in forging a renewed partnership to end hunger in Africa by 2025. This is not the first time the African Union is collaborating with the FAO,' Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, told the Assembly today.
'Africa also has long historical and cultural ties with Brazil, and in recent years these ties have been expanded to the scientific field, since we share some similar agro-ecological environments,' she added.