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Published by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (iisd)

 

Vol. 58 No. 5
Saturday, 3 April 2004
 

ASSURING FOOD AND NUTRITION SECURITY IN AFRICA BY 2020 HIGHLIGHTS:

FRIDAY, 2 APRIL 2004

Participants at IFPRI’s Conference on Assuring Food and Nutri­tion Security in Africa by 2020 continued to meet in plenary and parallel sessions on Friday. Throughout the day, they heard keynote addresses and participated in panel discussions and action fora on implementing action for food and nutrition security in Africa.

PLENARY SESSIONS

KEYNOTE ADDRESSES: Strategies for improving food and nutrition security in Africa: Victoria Sekitoleko, FAO Subregional Office for Southern and East Africa, called on political leaders to address land tenure issues. She stressed the need to increase produc­tivity and enhance human capacity in all areas, particularly water management. She further recommended investing the billions of US dollars spent annually on food imports in agriculture.

Technological options for Africa’s small-scale farmers: Gordon Conway, Rockefeller Foundation, said Africa was embarking on a new green revolution in which genetically modified crops have an important role to play. He recommended the establishment of networks of “agro-dealers” to spread agricultural inputs and know- how throughout the country, and stressed investment in human capital.

Implementing action to reduce hunger: Learning from Mali’s experiences: Ouman Ibrahima Touré, Minister for Food Security, Mali, outlined Mali’s food security strategies, elaborating on a national programme that liberalized state monopoly on cereals. He described its institutional arrangements, and highlighted early warning and information analysis systems.

What African countries can do to support implementation of action for food and nutrition security in Africa: Augustin Fosu, UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), said the key to regional economic growth lies in an African green revolution, based on biotechnology adapted to regional particularities. He noted the ECA’s role in enabling this revolution, as well as its work on HIV/AIDS and good governance.

What industrialized countries can do to promote agricultural and rural development in Africa: Perspectives of a development organization: Bernd Eisenblätter, GTZ, spoke on improving market access for African agricultural products. He encouraged diversifying products, defending existing market shares and capturing new markets. He noted that African farmers may not benefit from the phasing out of market distortions.

What industrialized countries can do to support implementa­tion of action for food and nutrition security in Africa: Perspec­tives from USAID: Emmy Simmons, USAID, prioritized market access, science and technology (S&T) and good governance. She said agribusiness is the future of African agriculture and underscored the role of S&T in achieving this end. She highlighted the Millennium Challenge Account, a new assistance initiative rewarding good gover­nance, promotion of economic freedom and investment in people.

Confronting AIDS and hunger in Africa: Alan Whiteside, University of KwaZulu-Natal, called HIV/AIDS the greatest health crisis of our time. He identified the challenges of prevention, care and treatment, and understanding and mitigating impacts of HIV/AIDS. He underscored the detrimental effects on agricultural productivity, and stressed the importance of securing appropriate nutrition for years to come.

Statement by the African Union: Rosebud Kurwijila, African Union (AU), elaborated on food security policies of the AU and its Commission, noting that new commitments signify a departure from past tendency for African governments to overlook this issue.

PANEL DISCUSSION: Improving implementation: What can lessons from successes and failures teach us? This discussion was chaired by Hamid Narjisse, National Institute for Agronomy Research, Morocco.

Based on a review of successful case studies, Peter Hazell, IFPRI, stressed the importance of government intervention in the early stages of agricultural revolutions. Although success depends on a number of elements within a market chain, he said experience shows that public sector involvement is crucial for incorporating small-holder farmers into the chain and contributing to poverty reduction. Hezron Nyan­gito, Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research, drew on observations in a background paper prepared for the Conference that evaluates strategies, policies and actions taken by African countries to achieve food and nutrition security.

Wilberforce Kisamba-Mugerwa, Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Uganda, said success in attaining food security depends on market access and research. He outlined additional constraints, including: low levels of technology adoption; poor exten­sion services; vulnerability to drought; conflicts; and lack of infra­structure, stakeholder involvement, and financing. Drawing on his NGO’s experience, Hans-Joachim Preuss, German Agro Action, recommended: involving local communities; establishing a coordina­tion body comprised of field actors; and creating long term programmes where activities can be institutionalized within commu­nities. He said governments should focus on ensuring security and providing legal and institutional frameworks for stakeholder involve­ment.

PARALLEL SESSIONS

ACTION FORA: IMPLEMENTING ACTION IN KEY AREAS: Raising agricultural productivity: Monty Jones, Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa, chaired this session, which addressed actions to reverse declining trends in agricultural produc­tivity in Africa.

Glyvyns Chinkhuntha, Freedom Gardens, Malawi, lamented that youth are encouraged to choose between education and farming, urging recognition of the role of educated people in revitalizing the agriculture sector. He called for empowerment of farmer networks. Seyfu Ketema, Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa, encouraged better networks for addressing environmental, institutional and social challenges to agri­cultural productivity, such as natural resource degradation, climate change, shrinking budgets, and poverty. Pedro Sanchez, UN Millen­nium Project Task Force on Hunger, presented on overcoming biophysical obstacles to increase agricultural productivity, and high­lighted in particular raising soil nutrient levels through the application of fertilizer. Carlos Seré, International Livestock Research Institute, stressed the importance of livestock for food security, and said it is an overlooked aspect of agriculture. He described the livestock sector as a driver for generating opportunities and income for the poor. Eugene Terry, African Agricultural Technology Foundation, urged embracing new technologies to raise agricultural productivity for achieving self-sufficiency and prosperity. Florence Wambugu, A Harvest Biotech Foundation International, described efforts to develop and deliver appropriate technologies. She encouraged pack­aging farming as a business in order to attract youth to agriculture.

Fostering economic growth and improving markets and trade: This session was chaired by panelist Benno Ndulu, World Bank, who pointed to two areas of focus: income security and market integration. Akinwumi Adesina, Rockefeller Foundation, moderated the session.

Eleni Gabre-Madhin, World Bank, underlined the need to �get markets right,� which entails addressing incentives, institutions and infrastructure. She highlighted institutions as the least understood and most important element in market development. Hans J�hr, Nestec Ltd., presented on how to link farmers to the food chain from the perspective of the private sector. He underlined the food industry�s requirement for long-term relationships and flexible structures to ensure sustainable supply of quality raw agricultural material.

Stephen Kiuri Njukia and Bernard Kagira, Regional Agricultural Trade Expansion Support Program, reported on the Regional Trade Policy Platforms, a private sector driven strategy for harmonizing commodity specific policies and regulations across the region. They said the project addresses information gaps by making available updated information on supply and demand of specific agricultural commodities, in order to facilitate intra-regional trade. Benno Ndulu stressed the link between nutrition security and economic growth. He highlighted actions to promote growth, including: maintaining macroeconomic stability; improving governance; investing in infra�structure; diversifying rural incomes; and collectively engaging with the global development community.

Building human capacity: This forum was reported on by IFPRI. This session was chaired by Angeline Kamba, UN/UNESCO World Commission on Culture and Development, and moderated by Soumana Sako, African Capacity Building Foundation.

Focusing on the problems of access to and quality of higher education, Kwadwo Asenso-Okyere, University of Ghana, called for increased government investment in education, and incorporation of HIV/AIDS-related education. William Lyakurwa, African Economic Research Consortium (AERC), discussed the role of networks of individuals and institutions in building and retaining human capacity. Based on AERC�s experience, he said sustainable networks require clear objectives, appropriate governance struc�tures, and innovative research based on peer review.

Suresh Babu, IFPRI, focused on areas requiring capacity devel�opment, highlighting coordination among donor programmes and objectives, and mainstreaming food and nutrition security goals into finance policies. Jim Ryan, Australian National University, said with appropriate investment in agricultural research and development, Africa could experience a number of �rainbow revolutions� rather than the one green revolution that Asia experienced. Carl Greenidge, Technical Center for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation, discussed his center�s approach to building institutional and individual capacity for achieving food security, highlighting enhancing skills, raising awareness and facilitating stakeholder dialogue.

Improving nutrition and health: This forum was reported on by IFPRI. This session was chaired by Kabba Joiner, West African Health Organization, and moderated by Tola Atinmo, Federation of African Nutrition Societies.

Stuart Gillespie, IFPRI, spoke on the interactions between HIV/ AIDS and nutrition, explaining that causes and effects run both ways.  He said nutrition is fundamental to prevention, care, treat�ment, and mitigation of HIV/AIDS and advocated considering poli�cies in terms of their effects on people�s vulnerability and resistance to HIV/AIDS. Amadou Kanout�, Consumers International, argued that food and nutrition insecurity must be tackled on many levels. He highlighted concerns, such as trade policies that compromise African food production and markets, and consumption and produc�tion models that exacerbate food insecurity. On implementing inter�ventions to manage the effects of HIV/AIDS on nutrition security, Robert Mwandime, Regional Center for Quality of Health Care, stressed: understanding the context of any intervention; creating and maintaining partnerships; having clear policies and guidelines; inte�grating nutrition activities with other activities; building capacities at various levels; and sharing experiences of successes and failures. Ebrahim Samba, WHO Regional Office for Africa, said the impor�tance of nutrition is not sufficiently acknowledged, and urged nutri�tionists to lobby for nutrition issues in their home countries. Flora Sibanda-Mulder, UNICEF-World Food Programme (WFP) Collabo�ration, spoke on the WFP Food for Education (FFE) programmes, which raise food and nutrition security by alleviating hunger, increasing enrollment and reducing dropout rates, particularly of girls.

Strengthening governance: This session was chaired by Bethuel Kiplagat, Africa Peace Forum, and moderated by Charlotte McClain, South African Human Rights Commission.

Tom Arnold, Concern Worldwide, said international NGOs need to forge new forms of partnerships with local NGOs that add value and catalyze change. He also called for systematic analysis of the implications of HIV/AIDS on human resource capacity. Meaza Ashenafi, Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association, spoke on the right to food, noting challenges in implementing and claiming this right. She stressed the need to integrate women into food and nutri�tion policy planning. John Githongo, Governance and Ethics, Office of the President, Kenya, outlined areas targeted in Kenya�s fight against corruption, highlighting, inter alia, the need for: leadership; institutional and legal reform; and enabling environments for civil society and media input.

Yemi Katerere, Center for International Forestry Research, spoke on forest governance, stressing the need to approach resource management in terms of livelihood options. He elaborated on the challenges of decentralization and emphasized the need to invest in capacity building. David King, International Federation of Agricul�tural Producers, urged strong farmer associations, and identified local ownership of development programmes and meaningful consultative processes as necessary for good governance. Norah Owaraga, Uganda Change Agent Association, presented on how her organization implements change and strengthens governance at the grassroots level. She said human development forms the basis of all development.

WRAP-UP DISCUSSION: ACTION FORA

IMPLEMENTING ACTION IN KEY AREAS: Chaired by Harris Mule, Top Investment and Management Services, Kenya, this session heard reports from the parallel sessions by the Forum Chairs.

Jones summarized suggestions for increasing agricultural productivity, including to: develop efficient output and input markets; strengthen policy to support export; build capacity; embrace biotechnologies; restore natural resources; invest in soil fertility and irrigation systems; and empower women and youth. Ndulu summarized the session on fostering economic growth and improving markets and trade, highlighting, inter alia, the impor�tance of a collective good reputation of Africa; the crucial role of institutions in reducing transaction costs and fostering access to market information; the need for infrastucture and regional coordi�nation; and the importance of diversification of incomes and resources.

On nutrition and health, Joiner reported that the session identi�fied women�s health as central to nutrition, and emphasized the need for inter-sectoral collaboration, and an integrated approach based on community needs. He regretted that nutrition was insufficiently addressed by the Conference. Kamba reported that the forum on building human capacity identified actors, areas and actions for capacity development. He said knowledge, communication and negotiation skills, and monitoring and evaluation were noted as areas for capacity development, and that utilizing existing capacity, investing in education, and retaining intellectual capital were recog�nized as priority actions. Kiplagat reported that the session on strengthening governance focused on the need to: ensure good governance at all levels; strengthen capacity and foster genuine participation of the rural poor; establish simple and transparent rules and procedures; empower women and farmers; address land tenure; foster strong civil society and media participation; and address corruption and ensure restitution.

THINGS TO LOOK FOR

IISD�s Sustainable Developments Summary Report of the Conference will be available at http://www.iisd.ca/sd/ifpri on Tuesday, 6 April 2004.


 
Sustainable Developments is a publication of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) <info@iisd.ca>, publishers of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin �. This issue is written and edited by Mar�a Guti�rrez <maria@iisd.org>, Prisna Nuengsigkapian <prisna@iisd.org> and Lisa Schipper <lisa@iisd.org>. The Digital Editor is Leila Mead <leila@iisd.org>. The editor is Lynn Wagner, Ph.D. <lynn@iisd.org>. The Director of IISD Reporting Services (including Sustainable Developments) is Langston James "Kimo" Goree VI <kimo@iisd.org>. Funding for coverage of this meeting has been provided by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). The authors can be contacted at their electronic mail addresses and at tel: +1-212-644-0204. IISD can be contacted at 161 Portage Avenue East, 6th Floor, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 0Y4, Canada; tel: +1-204-958-7700; fax: +1-204-958-7710. The opinions expressed in the Sustainable Developments are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IISD or IFPRI. Excerpts from Sustainable Developments may be used in other publications with appropriate academic citation. For further information on Sustainable Developments, including requests to provide reporting services, contact the Director of IISD Reporting Services at <kimo@iisd.org>.