African Leaders for Nutrition (ALN), a platform for high-level political engagement to advance nutrition in Africa, has joined two crucial forums for advancing policy dialogue on agriculture and nutrition in Africa.

ALN representatives attended the commemoration the 14th Africa Day for Food and Nutrition Security (ADFNS) and 19th Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) Partnership Platform (PP).

These platforms are crucial forums for advancing policy dialogue on agriculture and nutrition in Africa. The African Union Commission and its economic development agency AUDA-NEPAD jointly convened the 19th CAADP event to emphasize the interconnectedness of agriculture, nutrition, and trade,

Hosted by the government of Zambia recently in Lusaka Zambia, the two events were held under the theme: “Accelerating the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement in the context of CAADP Commitments for Safer and Healthier Diets”. This builds on the African Union’s 2023 Year Theme – “Accelerating the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)”.

In her keynote remarks during the opening, Zambian Vice-President Mutale Nalumango called for urgent action to address hunger and malnutrition in Africa to help advance the continent’s socio-economic transformation.

“Human Capital investment starts with good nutrition,” Vice President Nalumango said.

The AU’s Commissioner of Agriculture, Josepha SACKO, highlighted the prevalence of hunger on the continent, saying around 280 million people, or one out of five people, face hunger on the continent.

She advocated for a non-conventional approach to address inefficiencies in the food system to provide access to nutritious and safe food for all. Noting that food businesses account for 75% of inter-Africa trade, she said adopting a single market under the African Continental Free Trade Area will boost trade, alleviate poverty, and improve nutritious food supplies.

Further reiterating the nexus between trade and nutrition, Ambassador Minata Samate Cessouma, African Union Commissioner for Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development, said: “The African Continental Free Trade Area agreement is a game-changer

for the continent, offering the opportunity to promote economic growth, boost intra-African trade, and improve food security and nutrition.”

Similar sentiments were shared by the African Union Special Envoy on Food Systems, Dr Ibrahim Mayaki. He advocated for farmers producing about 80% of the food in Africa to be at the centre of an ‘agriculture revolution’ to reduce the continent’s current food import bill of about 60 billion dollars annually.

He stressed: “We need to re-think our approach to long-term planning. To plan for the long-term, we need to plan in the short-term; that is why the short-term goal of regional integration is crucial – many of our long-term goals depend highly on that”.

African Leaders for Nutrition co-hosted one of the sub-themes on financing agri-food and nutrition on the 1st of November to explore the role of the private sector in financing and advancing agri-food and nutrition initiatives in Africa. This aligns with the African Development Bank’s drive to make private sector development one of its key priorities for reducing poverty and supporting sustainable growth on the continent through improved investment.

In his opening remarks at the side event, African Leaders for Nutrition Coordinator George Ouma said, “We need a paradigm shift that opens space and opportunities for actors within the food and nutrition security ecosystem. We need the private sector to drive that change through innovations, investment, and strategic partnerships.”

More than 300 participants from African Union member states, regional economic communities, continental bodies, United Nations agencies, development partners, academic and think tanks, civil society, and the private sector ,attended the four-day session.