DAKAR, Jan 25 (Reuters) – Africa should produce more food instead of relying on imports and aid, Senegal’s President Macky Sall told leaders gathered in the West African country’s capital for a summit on Wednesday.
the continent is facing worst food crisisAccording to UN estimates, more than one in five Africans – a record 278 million people – are facing hunger.
Experts say the COVID-19 pandemic, rising prices and a huge debt burden following the war in Ukraine have added to long-term causes of food insecurity such as climate change and conflict.
“Africa needs to learn to feed itself and contribute to feeding the world,” said Sall, who is also the chair of the African Union.
“We have the potential, about 60% of the arable land here is untapped,” he said. “It’s paradoxical that we still need to import everything we need.”
Over the next three days of the summit, leaders will present their national priorities on food security to development banks and other international partners, including the United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom.
The African Development Bank, which supported the summit, said the meeting was meant to mobilize political commitment, development partner support and private sector investment to increase food production in Africa.
“It is time for Africa to feed Africa,” said Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank, who noted that African countries spend about $70 billion annually on food imports.
Sall urged countries to follow the 2003 Maputo Declaration on Agriculture, which called for African states to allocate 10% of their national budgets to agricultural development.
While Senegal allocates around 12%, some countries are yet to meet the target, he said.
He also said that countries should support smallholder farmers who make up the bulk of producers on the continent. Women and youth in particular need greater access to finance and land, Sal said.
Reporting by Bette Felix; Writing by Nellie Peyton; Editing by Alex Richardson
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