Tue, Jul 09, 2013 - Page 9 News List

Brazilian lessons to fight hunger in Africa

Former Brazilian president Inacio Lula da Silva says subsistence agriculture must be abolished for African countries to end hunger

By Liz Ford  /  The Guardian, ADDIS ABABA

In the decade since it was introduced, the two key strands of the CAADP — that African governments commit 10 percent of their budgets to investment in agriculture and increase productivity by 6 percent — have been achieved by only 10 countries.

Underpinning the conference declaration is a roadmap to achieving the 2025 target. It includes cutting the need for food aid within 10 years, eliminating stunting among children under five, doubling productivity of staple crops within five to 10 years, and contributing to the African trust fund for food security, launched at an FAO conference in Brazzaville last year.

However, as one delegate from Guinea said, the timeframe to increase crop yields and cut reliance on food aid is too long if hunger is to be eradicated by 2025.

Contributions to the trust fund, which is administered by the FAO and will support efforts by African leaders to meet their CAADP commitments, proved a contentious issue. Despite some African countries agreeing to contribute millions of dollars to the fund, which is supposed to be a catalyst for investment from the private sector, several agriculture ministers said it was tough enough trying to get money for their departments to meet the CAADP target, without having to ask their finance ministers for more.

“It doesn’t make sense,” Zambian Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Robert Sichinga said. “We have sufficient funding requirements already ... the fund should not be seen as a viable proposition at this stage.”

Sichinga questioned where African governments were going to find money for the fund when there was already a shortfall for agricultural program and said the mechanisms through which the fund distributes money were unclear.

However, there are reasons to be optimistic about Africa’s prospects.

Many delegates said they believed that years of continued economic growth had increased confidence among leaders that, with a concentrated effort, hunger and malnutrition could be ended.

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