Posted by: africanpressorganization | 28 July 2010

Speech by His Excellency Professor Bingu Wa Mutharika, President of the Republic of Malawi and Chairperson of the African Union at the press conference convened at the end of the 15th assembly of the heads of state and government of the African Union / Kampala, Uganda / The luncheon on the African food basket

 

 


 

 

Speech by His Excellency Professor Bingu Wa Mutharika, President of the Republic of Malawi and Chairperson of the African Union at the press conference convened at the end of the 15th assembly of the heads of state and government of the African Union / Kampala, Uganda / The luncheon on the African food basket

 

 

KAMPALA, Uganda, July 28, 2010/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Speech by His Excellency Professor Bingu Wa Mutharika, President of the Republic of Malawi and Chairperson of the African Union at the press conference convened at the end of the 15th assembly of the heads of state and government of the African Union / Kampala, Uganda / The luncheon on the African food basket

Speke ball room, Munyonyo hotel

Kampala Uganda

27th july, 2010

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

To recapitulate, the 14th Ordinary Summit of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union decided that within a period of five years, Africa must be able to feed itself and that after that period, no child in Africa should die of hunger, starvation or malnutrition. The African Union decided to place highest priority on agriculture and food security as the basis for economic transformation and change within the shortest period of time.

 

In order to realize the decision of the 14th Ordinary Summit, I am proposing a new strategic partnership for the “The African Food Basket: Innovations, Interventions and Strategic Partnerships” that will initially be implemented in Africa, with potential to extend to other developing nations.

 

Excellencies, the African Food Basket is a new focused approach that highlights agriculture and food security as the springboard for growth supported by strategic transport infrastructures, energy development, Information Communication Technology (ICT) and climate change mitigation.

 

The proposal calls for Africa and all cooperating partners to focus on improving agriculture and food security in the next five years through innovative interventions that comprise subsidies, increased budgetary allocations, private sector investment and affordable information and communications technology. This document could also form the basis for Africa to unlock resources from the $22 billion that the G8 made available in the L’Aquila Food Security Initiative.

 

The paper proposes the establishment of an ad-hoc body of 17 countries in Africa called the Strategic Group of Seventeen (SG17) on the African Food Basket that would spearhead and monitor the process towards turning Africa into a food basket. Members to the group would be countries with track records of achievement in promoting agriculture and food security.

 

Initially these are: Senegal, South Africa, Egypt, Sudan, Malawi, Uganda, Tanzania, Ghana, Ethiopia, Algeria, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Cameroon, Mozambique and Mali.

 

 

The mandate of the SG17 would be:

To review the progress and co-ordinate strategies in the implementation of the African Union decisions on agriculture and food security and other initiative in this field and to design the best methods for achieving food security for all African countries within the period of five years;

To review the L’Aquila Joint Statement on Global Food Security adopted by the G8 countries and propose concrete actions aimed at assisting African Countries to source funds for the L’Aquila Food Security Initiative to develop viable agriculture so as to achieve food security and fight hunger, starvation and malnutrition;

To liaise with the G8 governments and their bilateral and multilateral institutions to develop modus operandi for ensuring how developed countries can assist African countries to design new and best practices for enhancing agricultural development and for achieving food security for Africa and the rest of the world.

 

In order for Africa to be able to feed her people within the next five years, intensive efforts should be made to ensure that each nation and each region is food secure. The new partnerships should seriously consider introducing subsidies for African smallholder farmers, especially women, to enable them produce beyond subsistence.

 

Such subsidies would be directed towards the purchase of fertilizers, improved seeds, pesticides, tractors and irrigation equipment, extension services, and marketing. The African Food Basket will enhance the realization of Africa Green Revolution through increased productivity and production.

 

This will be sustainable through efficient utilization of land and water resources for irrigation, increased use of best bet soil fertility management technologies, increased access to farm inputs, mitigation against climate change, use of improved seed for drought tolerance, improvement of storage facilities to reduce post-harvest food loss, value addition and marketing systems for agriculture products.

 

One of the immediate actions needed is to reduce heavy post-harvest food losses in sub-Saharan Africa estimated at 40 percent compared with less than 1 percent in Europe, North America and South East Asia. The next important component of the African Food Basket should be to determine the staple food crops grown in different African countries and create reliable data banks through the use of information and communications technology.

Within each region and between various regions, we should encourage local farmers and investors from other African countries to grow any staple food crops for export to countries where these are needed.

 

The adverse impact of climate change poses serious challenges for African agriculture and food security. Therefore, a new strategic partnership is needed to introduce “green belts” along Africa’s perennial rivers and lake basins. These would provide new arable lands for growing a variety of food and cash crops.

 

For this to happen, there is need to increase investment in agriculture through budgetary allocation and funding from development partners. The promotion of large scale commercial irrigation farming through private investment, G8 funding for agriculture as well as project funding from the multilateral and bilateral cooperating partners will form an important aspect of food security.

Africa must combat shortages of rainfall resulting from climate change by embarking on extensive national or regional irrigational programmes and through increased investment in water development for irrigation farming and extensive reforestation.

 

The African Food Basket programmes should be supported by efficient transport infrastructure in order to transport food more efficiently and cheaply from surplus to deficit countries.

 

Strategic Partnership for Agriculture and Food Security recognizes that the African Union Commission and the Regional Economic Commissions have been working towards developing and implementing a joint and robust program on transport and infrastructure development encompassing air, road, rail, inland waterways, maritime transport and ports. These programs act as catalysts for trade and transit transport facilitation to serve critical sectors of the economies of the continent including the Green Revolution.

 

In the transport sector I wish to state that there are few inland port facilities specifically serving landlocked countries. It is for this reason that Malawi is pioneering the development of its World inland port connecting to the Indian Ocean that will serve Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe as well as Rwanda and Burundi.

 

I have no doubt that there are many other navigable rivers on the continent. Measures should also be devised to address the issue of congestion at port terminals around Africa for transit goods for landlocked countries.

 

African governments have further agreed to increase investment in ICT to enhance flow of information, movement of people, goods and services including the production and supply of agricultural inputs within and among nations, regions and the continent at large.

 

There is, therefore, need for Africa to create a comprehensive data base on agriculture so that countries and regions share the available information and technologies. These will support and complement the food security initiative.

 

Africa faces many natural disasters which could easily be mitigated through more integration of the early warning mechanisms in environment and climate change. There is need for African countries to enhance and strengthen national institutions that deal with monitoring natural disasters and changes in the environment. Given that Africa is the most vulnerable region to climate change with the least adaptive capacity, a global partnership to mitigate this is an immediate priority.

 

Excellencies, in order to overcome the energy constraints in Africa, the cooperating partners in development should increase their involvement in the new energy sources as an integral part of their efforts to spur economic growth and reduce poverty. Appropriate attention should be given to national, regional and inter-regional power connectivity to help smoothen out the uneven distribution of energy resources across Africa.

 

Excellencies, the high levels of food and nutrition insecurity in Africa are unacceptable. However, this is Africa’s opportunity to take out insurance to secure Africa’s future. Time for rhetoric has gone. It is time for action to eliminate hunger and malnutrition. It is time for action to increase access to complementary meals.

 

Excellencies, it is time for action furthermore to halve the numbers of people living with vitamin and mineral deficiencies. The voices resonating from Africa are clear; they are voices calling for action to position food and nutrition security at the centre stage of development.

 

Therefore we call for every country to celebrate an Africa Food and Nutrition Day as a rallying point to intensify our collective commitment in addressing hunger and malnutrition. This calls for action in line with our commitment to the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).

 

Excellencies, our people expect us to resolve issues of hunger and poverty once and for all within our lifetime. Posterity will judge us harshly if we do not take action now. If not us then who? If not now, when?

 

I thank you for your attention.

 

SOURCE 

African Union Commission (AUC)


 


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