Ruto calls on African leaders to boost food security effort

Saturday, January 28th, 2023 05:50 | By
Ruto to open post-election conference in Mombasa
President William Ruto at a past event. PHOTO/File

President William Ruto has challenged African heads of state and Government to be more proactive in boosting efforts to ensure the continent is food secure.

He called on the leaders to walk the talk by ensuring significant investment and appropriate governance approaches are fast tracked to realise high food levels and thus contribute to taming high cases of poverty and malnutrition. 

 “It is a shame that 60 years after independence, we are gathered to talk about feeding ourselves. We can and we must do better,” he said.

Financial assistance

Ruto is among more than 34 Heads of State, 70 government ministers, the private sector, farmers, development partners and corporate executives attending the Dakar 2 Africa Food Summit in Diamniadio, East of the Senegalese capital of Dakar.   The summit is organised by the African Development Bank Group and hosted by the Senegal government.

He said his Government would commit significant resources to support food production as part of taming the skyrocketing food prices.

During the summit, the bank announced $10 billion (Sh1.2 trillion) financial assistance to boost food production and reduce the increasing import bill over the next five years.

The bank reiterated its commitment to support African Governments efforts to end hunger and poverty among other agonies threatening food security.

Bank President Akinwumi Adesina announced the new commitment while opening the food summit.  According to the bank, food imports cost Africa US$55 billion (Sh6.8trillion) a year but this could double by 2030.

 “Today over 283 million Africans go to bed hungry every day. This is not acceptable. No mother should ever have to struggle with the rumbling of the stomach of a hungry child,” said Dr Adesina.

Adesina challenged the stakeholders to pursue compacts that would deliver food and agriculture transformation at scale across Africa.

He encouraged the actors to take collective action to unlock the continent’s agricultural potential to become a global breadbasket.

The Dakar 2 Summit—under the theme Feed Africa: food sovereignty and resilience—takes place amid supply chain disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Opening the summit, President Macky Sall—who is also the African Union chairperson—said the time had come for the continent to feed itself by adding value and stepping up the use of technology.

Innovative solutions

Sall said, “From the farm to the plate, we need full food sovereignty, and we must increase land under cultivation and market access to enhance cross-border trade.”

The Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat said the Dakar summit was timely and would provide innovative solutions to help Africa become less dependent on food imports.

“Food sovereignty should be our new weapon of freedom,” Mahamat told the gathering. He urged development partners to work together within existing structures, such as Agenda 2063 and the African Continental Free Trade Area, for sustainable transformation.

In his message to the summit, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres acknowledged that Africa was currently facing the challenges of climate change and food insecurity, as the Russia-Ukraine war had caused the price of fertilisers to shoot up and made their supply difficult.

Central bank governors and finance ministers are expected to develop financing arrangements to implement the food and agriculture delivery compacts.

This is in conjunction with agriculture ministers, private sector players, commercial banks, financial institutions, and multilateral partners and organisations.

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