Africa’s Agric Ministers Meet to Tackle Hunger Crisis


Sifelani Tsiko — Agric, Environment & Innovations Editor

The 32nd Session of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Regional Conference for Africa (ARC32) has opened in Equatorial Guinea’s capital island of Malabo with agriculture ministers from across Africa meeting to discuss solutions to the growing hunger crisis.

The conference convened by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) aims to define regional priorities in agri-food systems transformation.

In a statement on the opening of the event, FAO assistant director-general and regional representative for Africa, Abebe Haile-Gabriel, said the continent should draw lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic to trigger urgent action at national level.

“Collectively, we have learned to do things differently, to go digital like never before, and to quickly forge new partnerships to overcome threats. That same agility and spirit of collaboration is needed now for the silent pandemic of poverty, hunger and undernourishment and extreme vulnerabilities to shocks in Africa,” he said.

More than 50 government ministers from African member countries are taking part in the hybrid conference, as well as representatives from observer countries, the African Union, donor organisations, civil society and the private sector.

Hundreds of delegates will join the Zoom sessions over the next four days, and many more will watch the live webcast.

“We have to work together to exchange experiences to face these difficulties together,” said Francisca Eneme Efua, minister of agriculture, livestock, forests and environment of Equatorial Guinea and chairperson of ARC32.

“This conference gives us an outstanding opportunity to deal with the issues facing Africa. I ask all delegations to ‘put everything on the table’ so we can come up with ministerial consensus,” she said.

Zimbabwe was participating at this conference where its own Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement, Dr Anxious Masuka and chairperson of ARC31, who is expected to make remarks.

Zimbabwe successfully hosted the 31st Session of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations’ Regional Conference for Africa (ARC31) which was held virtually in October 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Even before the pandemic, there were more than 280 million undernourished people in Africa. In 2020, the region recorded the sharpest rise in the prevalence of undernourishment – covering 21 percent of the population which is more than double that of any other region.