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Less talk more action, Munya challenges ahead of food summit

Agriculture stakeholders and a schoolgirl cut a ribbon to officially launch the AGRF 2021 Summit that will happen in Nairobi in September between 6-10. [James Wanzala, Standard]

President Uhuru Kenyatta will grace a high-profile agriculture summit set for September 6 to 10 in Nairobi.

More than 500 guests, including government and private sector officials, youth, women leaders and farmer organisation will also grace the AGRF 2021 Summit.

They are expected to be joined virtually by more than 10,000 delegates from more than 150 countries. The summit will focus on accelerating progress towards the development of resilient food systems on the continent.

Under the theme of Pathways to Recovery and Resilient Food Systems, this year’s summit will put a spotlight on new commitments to the future of African food systems and showcase how resilience can be built.

The summit will have a special focus on the role of women and youth in transforming Africa’s food systems with various issues faced by these groups expected to dominate the discussions.

Former Prime Minister of Ethiopia and AGRF Board Chair Hailemariam Dessalegn said he was inspired to see African leaders make agriculture a priority but noted that a lot more needed to be done.

“Now more than ever we must prioritise inclusive agricultural transformation. We must work collaboratively to ensure that policy, technology and finances respond to the needs of our farmers. This is critical to achieving zero hunger across the continent and around the globe,’’ said Dessalegn.

Defining moment

Co-organised with the Government of Kenya, with the support from 26 partner institutions, this year’s summit comes at a pivotal time when global voices convene under the Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) to shift the conversation on how food is produced and consumed and the role it plays to support the Sustainable Development Goals. 

As part of its contribution to the UNFSS, the summit aims to elevate the single, coordinated African voice, by identifying immediate actions to be taken to accelerate progress towards the development of resilient food systems.

Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives, Peter Munya, said the conversation at the AGRF needs to extend beyond agriculture and consider the food system from farm to fork.

“We must change the way we approach and prioritise food systems on the continent. We can no longer limit food systems to the farm. Our approach must reflect the complexity and importance of food systems and value of collaborations to deliver more inclusive and resilient food systems on the continent,” Munya said.

It has been noted that Covid-19 highlighted the fragility of the continent’s food systems. Lockdowns, curfews and the pandemic was another example of the need to build more resilient food systems on the continent.

The summit will provide a platform for all stakeholders to align on the actions and commitments needed to build resilient food systems which end hunger and support the delivery of sustainable development goals.

Jennifer Baarn, Acting Managing Director AGRF said, the summit is a defining moment for Africa’s food systems.

“This is our time to create our own vision for Africa’s food systems. It is our time to listen, innovate, plan and invest for Africa. What we invest in African agriculture today will determine the future of food in Africa and the world tomorrow,” she said.

Some of the key highlights at this year’s summit will include the Agribusiness Deal Room, a platform connecting entrepreneurs and governments with investors.

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