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    2021 Brazil-Africa Forum Commit to Boost Solutions for Food Insecurity, Climate Change

    The African continent is known to be the most vulnerable to climate change and the least equipped to cope with severe challenges such as food insecurity.

    25 Nov 2021

    Rabat – As the COVID crisis exacerbates the African Continent’s food insecurity crisis, activists and representatives of international NGOs and multinationals, including Morocco’s OCP Group, attended the 2021 Brazil Africa Forum to discuss potential solutions to reduce hunger and improve climate conditions in Africa.

    One of the panels of the two-day forum, themed “Sustainable Agriculture and Food Production: Ensuring Climate-Smart Food Systems,” focused on finding solutions to ensure long-term sustainable development.

    Acute food insecurity in Africa has gradually increased over the past years due to several reasons such as regional conflicts, political mismanagement, and economic slowdowns. It has become a critical issue with heavy impacts on ordinary people’s wellbeing.

    Panelists stressed the fundamental issues that are impeding Africa’s development, especially climate change, hunger, and malnutrition.

    Faycal Benameur, Senior Vice President for East Africa at OCP Group, stressed that “Africa might not be the biggest contributor to climate change, looking at the numbers, Africa is the first to be impacted by climate change and food insecurity.”

    He called for joint effort to combat food insecurity, climate change, and biodiversity challenges by emphasizing two elements: carbon sequestration and appropriate farming practices.

    Benameur argued that carbon sequestration is strategic for the African continent, recalling that Africa captures 530 million tons for CO2 per year, almost three times the level of the global potential of the European continent.

    Carbon sequestration is a long-term process that aims to store atmospheric carbon dioxide in plants, soils, geologic formations, and the ocean. It is one method of reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere with the goal of fighting against global climate change.

    “We [OCP] are focused on smart and balanced fertilization to restore soil health, its biomass, and its ability to secure the needed food to feed the African population,” he added.

    Benameur highlighted that OCP has invested heavily in different African countries to put in place the aforementioned approach by developing with African partners soil fertility map and developing customized fertilizers.

    OCP has also invested in the production of assets and equipment to make the customized formula available for different small holder farmers across the continent, he said. The soil fertility map took a period of 3 years to develop.

    Food insecurity: One of Africa’s greatest challenges

    According to the World Hunger Education Service (WHES), approximately 27.4% of the population in Africa was classified as severely food insecure in 2016, which is almost four times as high as any other region.

    Additionally, the continent is known to be the most vulnerable to climate change and the least equipped to cope with severe ecological challenges.

    Societies cannot thrive while communities are suffering from malnutrition and sinking into poverty. Sustainable development cannot be achieved without tackling the persistent food insecurity and climate issues.

    Another panelist, Maria Helena Semedo, Deputy Director General of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), spoke emphatically about the need of having a “holistic system-based approach where we should look not only at production but also transformation and consumption.” Such an approach, she explained, would allow countries to produce while bringing the maximum benefit to natural resources.

    Semedo stressed that producing sustainably and putting bio-diversity at the center of the food system would help achieve a more efficient, inclusive, and resilient agri-food system.

    There is a panoply of climate-smart approaches that can provide solutions to today’s challenges such as nature-based solutions, reducing waste, using organic waste and improving access to renewable energy, she explained.

    Semedo further said that beyond policies and investments, leadership is crucial to put forward stronger steps to curb climate change globally.

    “With the number of events that happened in line with such a topic, we shouldn’t be facing this paradox and fallout,” said Yemi Akinbamijo, Executive director of Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA).

    Akinbamijo cited three aspects of the struggle to address the key concern of the second goal - zero hunger - of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): biological production systems, social infrastructure of the production system, and technology that can contribute to reduce post-harvest losses (PHL).

    The PHL refers to measurable quantitative and qualitative food loss in the post-harvest system. The system consists of interconnected activities from the time of harvest through crop processing, marketing and food preparation, to the final decision by the consumer to eat or discard the food.

    To avoid global warming “We need to produce more with less, as we are exceeding the limit of the planet,” Akinbamijo argued.

    The panelist focused on how to produce more in a sustainable manner to face food insecurities and hunger problems.

    Over 100 million Africans faced crisis, emergency, or catastrophic levels of food insecurity in 2020, which increased by more than 60% from the previous year, according to a recent report by the Africa Center for Strategic studies. Levels of food insecurity are expected to worsen further in 2021, the report assessed.

    With several African countries facing multiple crises simultaneously, civil society actors must reinforce efforts to provide better living conditions for people in vulnerable situations and countries are urged to support smallholder farmers’ ability to increase food production.


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