50% of Africa’s population lack economic or physical access to sufficient food

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The 2022 Africa Agriculture Status Report (AASR23) has revealed the 650 million people – representing 50 percent of the continent’s population – lack economic or physical access to sufficient food.

The new study underscores the need to address challenges affecting African food systems, considering the imminent threat posed by climate change and the potential consequences of inaction.

Titled ‘Empowering Africa’s Food Systems’, AASR23 offers an in-depth exploration of the vulnerabilities, challenges and transformative potential of the continent’s food systems. This timely report delves into a holistic understanding of the intricacies in African food systems – from socio-economic vulnerabilities to the pivotal role of knowledge and technology – while highlighting the urgent need for innovative financing.

“This report strives to show that Innovative Finance is not just a buzzword – it is an essential tool for Africa’s journey toward sustainable, resilient, and inclusive food systems. As the continent faces the dual challenges of rapid population growth and climate change, finding new financing mechanisms will be paramount in shaping a prosperous and secure food future for all its citizens,” said AGRQA President, Dr. Agnes Kalibata.

Of the 50 indicators outlined in the Food Systems Countdown Initiative (FSCI) framework, sub-Saharan African countries are performing worse than the global average in a total of 32 indicators, mostly related to diets, nutrition, and health.

On the other hand, sub-Saharan African countries are performing better than the global average in the remaining 18 indicators – including those on food systems, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and biosphere integrity. The above is accentuated by the fact that up to 650 million Africans – 50% of the continent’s population—lack economic or physical access to sufficient food to meet their minimum needs every day (BCG, 2021).

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While African governments are committed to tripling intra-African trade in agricultural commodities and services by 2025 as part of the 2014 Malabo Declaration, the aspiration is far-fetched as this kind of trade has continued to dwindle from its peak in 2013 to less than 15 percent in 2022. However, if fully implemented, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) could raise household income by 9% by 2035 while lifting 50 million people out of extreme poverty. Africa could see foreign direct investment increase by between 111% and 159% under the AfCFTA.

The report offers a deep dive into the underlying challenges that have historically held back the potential of the continent’s vast natural resources. Overall, despite progress in food production, processing and distribution, significant challenges and failures persist, leading to an alarmingly poor state of food and nutrition security across the continent.

The report unveils a multifaceted web of challenges that stretch from production to consumption. While daunting, these challenges provide a clear call for a concerted response from governments, the private sector, communities, and individuals alike.

“The findings in this year’s AASR are not just a reflection of the current challenges but also a roadmap for future actions, guiding the continent toward food systems wherein every African will have access to sustainable, healthy diets,” said Dr. John M. Ulimwengu, the report’s lead author.


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