The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the fragility and vulnerability of food systems in Africa, a senior AU official said on Thursday.
The remark was made by Josefa Sacko, AU Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, while addressing a press conference on the sidelines of the AU Executive Council meeting.
The meeting, which brought together foreign ministers of African countries at the AU Headquarters in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa for the first time since the onset of COVID-19 pandemic.
The AU official, addressing the media under the theme:“Building Resilient Food Systems in Africa Post COVID-19: A Call for Action’’, stressed that the choice of this topic is motivated by the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic that started about two years ago has disrupted food systems in Africa.
“While it is true that close to a quarter of Africa’s population was hungry before 2020, the pandemic has worsened the situation. Hunger in Africa has been rising in the last 4 to 5 years.
“The pandemic has revealed the fragility and vulnerability of our food systems,’’ Sacko said.
“It is, therefore, important that as a continent we take bold actions to make sure that we not only recover from the impact of the pandemic, but we build sustainable and resilient food systems that will reduce vulnerability to future pandemics,’’ she added.
She underscored that building resilient food systems required Africa to address the factors that make the continent’s food systems fragile and vulnerable to shocks.
She further emphasised that in the last four years, Africa’s food systems had been hit by climatic shocks, including hurricane Idai in Southern Africa, floods in East and West Africa, pests such as fall army-worm and desert locusts in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel, as well as diseases such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“The compound effect of these shocks to our food systems has reduced production and trade, leading to food shortages and higher food prices.
“The rural poor, low-income earners in urban areas and displaced populations are particularly vulnerable,’’ she said. (Xinhua)