The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), the African Union (AU) and international partners, have challenged the continent’s leaders on the need to ensure access to food and nutrition for Africa’s most vulnerable. They, however, described the food and agriculture system as an essential service that must continue to operate even during periods of lockdown, emergency, curfew and other containment measures.
This is coming as the regional body and U.N agency joined forces to minimize the lockdown’s impact on the continent, saying that one in five person goes hungry. In a joint declaration, they committed to supporting access to food and nutrition for Africa’s most vulnerable, providing Africans with social safety nets, minimizing disruptions to the safe movement and transport of essential people, and to the transport and marketing of goods and services; and keeping borders open on the continent for the food and agriculture trade.
In his opening remarks, during a meeting held virtually, FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu, said quick, strategic action was needed to lessen the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on food security in Africa. According to him: “border closures restrict trade and limit food availability in many countries, particularly those dependent on food imports.”
On her part, Angela Thoko Didiza, the Chair of the African Union Specialized Technical Committee on agriculture, rural development, water and environment, cautioned against any moves to weaken inter-regional trade.
Maximo Torero, The FAO’s Chief Economist, highlighted the growing evidence of logistical strains in food markets, which Qu suggested should be mitigated by “shortening the chain,” producing more, better, and locally if possible. This Day