Zimbabwe is hosting the 31st session of the Food and Agriculture Organisation Conference for Africa, which aims to build food and agriculture systems that are resilient to climate change, trans-boundary diseases and Covid-19.
The three-day conference is being held under the theme: “Agricultural and Rural Transformation in Africa: Promoting Inclusive Agribusiness and Regional Integration for attainment of Sustainable Development Goals” was done virtually due to Covid-19.
Covid-19 pandemic, rising levels of hunger and malnutrition, and growing swarms of locusts are the backdrop for the conference.
More than 80 ministers and deputy ministers from more than 45 countries are taking part, as well as representatives from observer countries, donor organisations, civil society and the private sector.
Hundreds of delegates will join the Zoom sessions over the next three days, and many more will watch the live webcast.
The conference will discuss priority issues concerning food and agriculture issues in Africa ahead of the deadlines for achieving SDG 2 – Zero Hunger by 2030 and the African Union Malabo targets on food security and nutrition by 2025. More than 820 million people in the world are food insecure and the bulk of these are from the rural areas.
Participants will review the impact of climate change of conflicts of change and other pests and diseases on the aspects relating to adequacy of food and nutrition for various communities.
Officially opening the conference at Munhumutapa Building yesterday, Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister Anxious Masuka yesterday said it was important to build resilience for agriculture systems and ensure there was adequate food.
“As Zimbabwe we are looking forward to getting vital insights from this conference. We have just launched our own Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy and we want to dovetail with this regional thinking,” he said.
“The theme of the 31st FAO Africa regional conference reflects the growing recognition of the important role of agriculture and agribusiness in achieving food security and accelerating eradication of poverty in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.”
Minister Masuka said the Covid-19 pandemic was a threat to the gains that Africa and the world had made in eradicating hunger and malnutrition.
“This is especially true in the African region where we were facing multiple shocks and disruptions to economies, markets, resources and public health systems,” he said.
Dr Masuka expressed gratitude to FAO for conducting assessments on the effects of Covid-19, including assessing food supply chains food security and nutrition and effects of lockdown on livelihoods and employment to food security, domestic and regional trade.
FAO assistant director-general and regional representative for Africa, Abebe Haile-Gabriel, said: “There are no other options than taking bold and accelerated collaborative actions to address these overlapping crises and build back better,” he said.