Africa can be a global leader in transforming the food system that also reduces poverty and protects the environment, but this will require collaborative and coordinated work, they say. Angela Churie Kallhauge, Executive Vice President, Environmental Defense Fund, Ishmael Sunga, CEO, Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions and Serah Makka, Executive Director, ONE Africa.
When a continent that owns 65% of the world’s arable land struggles to feed its 1.4 billion people, we know something is wrong and that African and global food systems need to be rethought.
The urgent need to shape a more productive, transparent and equitable food system – and to reduce poverty and the profound effects of climate change – requires us to urgently forge alliances between diverse actors and sectors.
In this case, our collective efforts, spanning agriculture, poverty reduction and the environment, are a powerful force for driving lasting change and supporting thriving communities.
Together, we are committed to strengthening the continent’s food producers to cultivate a more resilient and sustainable food system.
Africa can lead a global movement towards food system transformation – but challenges such as extreme climate impacts, limited access to resources and power imbalances thwart its efforts.
The role of agriculture in reducing poverty is indisputable: it impacts employment, GDP, food security and countless livelihoods. To harness this potential, we need a holistic food systems approach that transforms lives while addressing the climate crisis. With global support, Africa can build a food system that improves food security, prosperity and ecological balance.
African youth, who represent nearly 60% of the continent’s population, constitute an important asset in this journey. By empowering young farmers through training, entrepreneurship and technology, Africa can harness their potential for innovative, climate-responsive agriculture.
These young leaders are already making progress in sustainable agriculture, but they need support to flourish. With guaranteed land rights, financial support and appropriate training, Africa can unlock the full potential of its agripreneurs, ensuring a sustainable agricultural future.
Urbanization, often seen as a challenge, can turn into an opportunity. As cities grow, so does the demand for locally produced food. Connecting farmers and agribusinesses to urban markets can create thriving agricultural value chains benefiting both producers and consumers.
Investing in agricultural research and technology is essential. Innovation, digital solutions and research-based practices can optimize productivity, resource efficiency and market insight.
This includes precision agriculture, improved seeds, water management, pest control, climate-smart strategies and supporting policies. Research, adapted to local contexts, plays a central role in refining and disseminating these strategies, thereby improving productivity, sustainability and resilience.
Additionally, climate-resilient agricultural practices are essential. Combining indigenous knowledge with modern technologies can optimize productivity while reducing the environmental footprint.
Africa’s journey towards agricultural leadership requires the support of the global community. International organizations can provide funding, expertise and knowledge exchange to promote sustainable agriculture and climate resilience.
Collaboration is the cornerstone of success. Through collective action, Africa can harness its unity and solve complex problems more effectively. Organizations like ONE.org, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and the Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU) are actively collaborating to advocate for policy changes, knowledge sharing and support for sustainable food systems and resilient.
Policy reforms are imperative to create an enabling environment for agricultural development. Governments must encourage climate-smart practices, support value addition and promote sustainable investments. The Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Program (CAADP), for example, provides a roadmap for policy reforms, coordination and transparent allocation of resources.
Despite the challenges, Africa’s agricultural potential is limitless. To overcome the obstacles, we need to attract finance, harness the innovative spirit of young people, promote climate-resilient practices, invest in research and technology and collaborate across sectors.
Climate change is a determining factor in Africa’s ability to feed itself and the world. This requires investments in infrastructure, innovation and a new generation of climate-responsive farmers and agripreneurs.
This journey requires multi-sector partnerships and collaborative efforts, fueled by diverse forms of financing, from philanthropy to commercial investments. The future of Africa, and indeed the future of the world, marked by sustainability, inclusion and prosperity, is within our grasp, and it calls on us to act now.